When a lawyer is engaged to bring a lawsuit in tort (personal injury, medical malpractice, wrongful death, product liability) the lawyer and client ordinarily enter into a contract or retainer agreement. Typically, the agreement will set a fee at a contingency rate of 33% or 40%.
The contingency fee means that the client pays nothing for the attorney services throughout the lawsuit until its conclusion. Once the case is settled or a verdict at trial is received, the attorney's fee is calculated based on the total recovery in addition to reimbursement of expenses forwarded by the attorney. Should there be no recover in the lawsuit, the attorney will receive nothing for his time and effort.
The contingency fee is an age-old method allowing plaintiffs to go forth with a claim when they are unable to afford to pay the attorney by the hour as the claim proceeds. In fact, almost no plaintiff or claimant is able to pay such fees on a continuing basis.
As a result, the contingency fee is an important factor in assisting claimants in proceeding with their injury claim.