Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney for a Car Accident: Question 2 – Does a Low Contingency Rate Mean More Money For Me?

Many lawyers, including myself, will frequently take personal injury cases on a contingency.  What this means is that the legal fee is contingent on the recovery at the end of the case.  Typically, the client is only responsible to pay legal fees if there is a recovery and the legal fee is determined by a percentage of the total recovery.  Many seem to believe that the lower the contingency rate a law firm is willing to charge means the client will end up getting more money.  However, this is a fallacy as the existence and amount of recovery will typically have much more influence on how much you get paid rather than the contingency fee rate.  I do not like the term “discount” attorney because when it comes to a contingency fee, how much the client can afford to pay an attorney is immaterial since the client is not paying legal fees prior to recovering.  If a good attorney recovers much more than the “discount” attorney for the same type of case then the client is going to be left with much more despite the higher contingency fee.

Another consideration regarding contingency fees is to determine whether the fee is based on the actual amount of work.  For example, if a discount attorney is offering a 25% contingency fee but refuses to litigate cases, then the 25% contingency fee is not such a good deal.  Some cases may require litigation to properly resolve the case if the other side denies liability even when a case has merit.  In many of my cases, the contingency fee will be depending on the stage of the case and amount of work that is required to properly pursue a claim.  Despite many cases requiring me to litigate in Court, if a case can be appropriately resolved without litigation, my contingency fee is typically much less. 

Before hiring an attorney on a contingency, look carefully at the fee agreement.  Is the attorney differentiating the fee based on the amount of work completed? If an attorney is charging a 25% fee regardless of the work, how much investment will they really put into your case?  How often does that attorney even go to litigation? Some large insurance companies will not reasonably settle a valid injury claim unless you proceed with litigation.  As a result, hiring an attorney that rarely litigates cases may result in a small recovery if a case is prematurely settled.

Prior to hiring a personal injury attorney, you should make sure you hire an attorney you trust and feel comfortable with.  Many personal injury attorneys, including myself, offer free consultations.  If you or someone you know has been injured such as in a car accident, call me at 480-927-3700 for a free consultation.

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