The Contingent Fee — Leveling the Playing Field Against Insurance Companies
How do you hire an excellent attorney and pay for the services in a personal injury case?
Like any other professional, the hourly fee for lawyers is largely driven by market forces, but in the case of attorneys a substantial consideration is simple: how really good is the attorney at what they do? The better the lawyer, the higher a fee they can usually command.
For example, in divorce cases, you will often hear people recommend: higher the toughest, most expensive lawyer you can find.
Hiring top rate, expensive lawyers is fine if you have the money. Insurance companies often use entire teams of lawyers on the same case.
If you are like the rest of us, if an automobile accident occurs, for example, you probably can not afford to hire an attorney who may be valued at $300, $500 or $800 per hour.
This is why the contingency fee was created. To allow regular people access to the court when they have been injured, but who may not be able to afford to pay a lawyer on an hourly basis.
What is a contingency fee? It is a fee charged by an attorney or law firm to a client only if the client’s case has a favorable outcome. The fee is usually a percentage of the client’s ultimate recovery in the case and the fee is charged only if the client agrees to settle his case or receives a verdict and collects on that verdict.
Attorney Brian Denney represents nearly all his clients on a contingent fee basis and discusses this aspect of his representation:
Today, like the attorney fee, usually law firms will also fund the costs of pursuing your case and you will not owe those costs unless you receive a favorable outcome in your case. Sometimes those costs can be very significant.
In the case in which attorneys are being paid by the hour, one might argue their motivation or desire to rapidly move the case and work hard toward a favorable outcome for their client is solely based on the individual lawyer(s) attitudes; since the attorneys will be paid an hourly fee and costs regardless of the outcome of the case.
In a contingent fee case, the law firm and the individual attorney have evaluated the case and believe it is one in which they can succeed because they have agreed to take the risks in the case right with their client. If the contingent fee lawyer is unsuccessful in a case he will usually lose all of the costs and any fee.
The contingent fee has allowed people with injuries caused by another’s negligence to be able to enter the courthouses across America and litigate their claims with skilled attorneys by their sides. Now, insurance companies should not be able to “out gun” plaintiffs simply because they have more power and money on their side.
The contingent fee has levelled the playing field for plaintiffs by allowing them to hire lawyers as or more talented as their insurance company adversaries.