How Do I Find Lawyers That Don’t Get Paid Unless You Win Near Me?Personal Injuries
There are many advertisements for lawyers who offer “no win, no fee” representation, but what does it mean? Essentially a contingency fee claim is one where the attorney does not receive payment until the end of your case. The lawyer will get compensation from your settlement offer. There are several instances where this arrangement is possible, benefiting victims who cannot afford to pay for legal services outright. There are various ways to find lawyers that work on a contingency fee.
The kind of case that you have will determine whether it qualifies for a contingency fee or other payment option. Even if you have a case that can work on a contingency fee, not every attorney can take your case. Some firms do not have the initial capital to cover expenses and costs for handling these cases without income for an extended period. Make sure you and your attorney are on the same page regarding payment.
Do not hesitate to call a local law firm to find out if they offer contingency fee representation. Reputable injury lawyers take cases on a no-win, no-fee basis to best help injured clients.
How does contingency-fee work?
When you meet with an attorney, they will inform you whether they can take your case on a contingency fee basis. The attorney will receive nothing from you, but you must sign several documents agreeing to pay them out of your settlement. The contingency fee lawyer will take a percentage of your payment when it resolves. The attorney will also pay for court costs, expert fees, and more. Upon resolving your case, they will also receive reimbursement for these expenses.
A lawyer will determine whether or not to take a case depending on the expected outcome. A lawyer will take your case on a contingency fee if they believe they can recover substantial compensation. This method also works in your favor because an attorney will work harder when they know they will not get paid unless they win. However, you must also ensure you feel comfortable with the attorney and their experience. Once an agreement is final, the contract cannot change without your consent.
What is the cost of a contingency lawyer?
Since a contingency fee lawyer works on percentages and potential outcomes, each firm will set its percentage rates. The rates can vary from five percent to 50 percent of your recovery. Some law firms will treat cases similarly and have a set fee structure for all claims they handle. Other times a law firm will consider several factors of your claim to find a fair percentage.
They will consider:
- How complex the issue is
- The estimated time and labor the case requires
- Their experience, reputation, and skills
- The potential outcome
- Additional costs for court expenses
- The relationship between the lawyer and client
A caveat of contingency fee lawsuits is there will be different percentages for different stages of the legal matter. There will be a pre-litigation fee and a litigation fee. When a case resolves before litigation, the attorney will take the pre-litigation percentage, much lower than the litigation percentage.
If the case goes to trial and the other party files an appeal, there will be an even higher percentage rate. It is essential to ask about all of these possibilities and fees even if your attorney reassures you that the case will not go into litigation. While they can make an educated guess on how far the case will go, there are no assurances.
Is pro-bono the same as contingency fee?
A contingency fee is different from pro bono, even though they often get confused. Pro bono is a case that an attorney takes for the public good and does not charge fees. The lawyer will take the case voluntarily and does not expect any payment for their legal services. Law students and paralegals can offer legal services under the premise of pro bono. Per the American Bar Association, lawyers should contribute 50 hours of pro bono work each year. Depending on the state you reside in, the suggested pro bono hours will vary.
Which lawyers work on a contingency fee?
In most cases where an attorney will work on a contingency fee is when there are significant damages for a civil claim. Often these cases will have a clear at-fault party, so it is easy to decipher who will be the victor.
Attorneys can work on a contingency fee basis in cases involving:
- Sexual harassment
- Personal injury
- Medical malpractice
- Employment discrimination
- Lawsuits that have a potential for substantial recovery
The most common field is personal injury since these involve a victim who suffers an injury due to the negligence of another party. These cases often have injuries, and the victim would be unable to pay for legal services if not for the contingency fee structure.
Are there cases where contingent fees are not allowed?
Yes, there are cases where an attorney cannot work on a contingency fee basis. Since the American Bar Association reserves this fee structure for civil cases, no criminal cases can work on a contingency fee basis. Family law cases are the other exception to this pay structure.
Another instance where an attorney cannot collect a percentage of your settlement is when it goes against statutory laws or is unreasonable to collect. When you have a case that does not qualify for a contingency fee, your lawyer may use other payment options.
Pros and cons of contingency
As with everything, there are pros and cons. A contingency fee offers the convenience of not having to pay any costs upfront. You only pay if you win and walk away scot-free if you lose. The attorney only receives payment from your settlement, and you do not pay out of pocket. The option is great for people who cannot afford legal representation.
There is one drawback to a contingency fee. The attorney receives the payment no matter how long the case takes. So if you have a shorter case that resolves within a couple of months, the attorney will receive the same payment as if the case took over a year. The contingency fee may be more for shorter cases than another pay structure.
Another factor to consider is that attorneys only take cases they can win. Some individuals see this as an advantage, while others see it as a disadvantage. The attorney may not take the chance if they identify problems in the case.
What are other attorney fees?
Since some cases do not work on a contingency fee, you might wonder what other fee structures attorneys use.
There are several fees, and you must discuss these with your attorney during your first meeting.
- Fee Advance: A lawyer may charge an advanced fee for services they expect to perform. The attorney will put it into a trust and charge the trust as they complete work on the case. If any fee advances are left over, the client will recover them.
- Cost deposit: There are several filing and other legal costs that you will incur through the case. These fees include copying charges, travel expenses, filing fees, and more. While you will give an initial deposit, you will also face additional bills if the costs exceed the deposit. In comparison, you will receive a refund for the difference when the lawyer does not use all of the cost deposit.
- Flat rate fees: For simple legal matters such as drafting legal documents, there are flat-rate fees such as creating a will. Other cases, such as immigration and criminal, will have a flat-rate fee.
- Hourly charges: Just as some jobs offer hourly wages, some attorneys work on an hourly wage. Each lawyer will have different hourly rates, and you must discuss an estimate before agreeing to hire them. The lawyer will use a complex calculation to determine what the hourly rate for your case will be. You may receive monthly bills for the duration of your case.
- Retainer: One final possible pay structure you can face is a retainer. This fee is a payment to have a lawyer available for your legal matters.
Keep all of this in mind when discussing attorney fees. You must keep yourself organized and provide as much detail about your case as possible before signing anything.
You can mitigate additional work the attorney charges for by preparing for your initial consultation:
- Gather all documents for your case
- Have a current telephone and address information for witnesses and other parties involved
- Have witness statement of the incident ready
- Make copies of everything
- Present your case from your point of view
- Share all information, good and bad, and let your attorney decide what to use
- Discuss legal fees
Ask your lawyer about their fees before signing.
During an initial consultation, you and your attorney will discuss the fee structure, length of time the case will take, and possible challenges. An agreement should benefit both parties and is a mutual commitment.
Aside from asking about the fee structure, you should also ask:
- The chances of winning a case
- The potential damages you will be awarded
- Whether the lawyer will need expert witnesses and how much this will cost
- Total estimate costs of filing fees
- If you will receive monthly bills
- How often to expect communications
At the end of your legal matter, you will get a breakdown of the costs for your case and see how much the attorney will receive. There will also be other parties that can obtain a portion of your compensation, such as expert witnesses. You will likely receive this breakdown online. You can also ask for a periodic breakdown of costs and work the attorney performs on your behalf.
What happens when you lose your case?
The contingency fee lawyer will not receive any payment from you if the case is lost. You will lose nothing if they lose unless there is a provision within the initial contract. You may have to pay filing and court costs when a case is lost. However, these charges will be in the initial agreement.
You must review the entire contract before signing it during your initial consultation. You must understand how the fee structure works, win or lose. Once You sign an agreement, there is no going back, and if you agree to pay specific fees and costs, you will be liable for those even if your attorney loses your case.
How to find lawyers who don’t get paid unless you win?
You can find a contingency fee attorney to handle your case in several ways.
Here’s how you can find a lawyer are:
- Word of mouth through friends and family: One of the primary sources of clients comes from word of mouth. You may be unaware of the legal matters of those around you, but you should ask. When one attorney helps a client, they will refer their friends and family to the attorney.
- Conduct an internet search: The next thing you can do to find a lawyer is search for them online. Even when you find a potential lawyer, research their credentials and case results.
- Use an attorney referral service online: There are several state referral websites that you can use to find a lawyer that works in the legal field you need.
- The state bar association: Your state bar association lists all state lawyers and their credentials and ratings. You will have an accurate view of the lawyer’s experience.
Suppose you find yourself in a legal situation and do not have the means to hire a lawyer; look for a contingency fee lawyer who offers a no-win, no-fee agreement. Law firms often offer free initial consultations where you can discuss your case and the potential fees. When you find a lawyer, make sure you feel confident in their ability to handle your case effectively.