What Is a Contingency Fee and How Does It Affect You and Your Case?

If you are involved in a legal matter in which you sustained a personal injury, you may need to hire an attorney. If you think you have a chance to recover money from the litigation, you may be able to retain the legal services on a contingency basis.

What it basically means is that you are liable to pay attorney fees for the legal services only if your attorney helps you recover money by winning your trial or negotiating a settlement with the other party or their insurer. In the case of no recovery, you are not liable to pay these fees, although you may need to pay for other legal costs and expenses.

Hiring an experienced lawyer could make a huge difference to the outcome of your case. Your attorney or paralegal will charge you a percentage of the money you receive as a contingency fee in lieu of helping you with your litigation.

What is a Contingency Fee?

Expenses involved in a civil lawsuit may be categorized under two heads, namely fees and costs. While the money an attorney charges for handling your case constitutes fees any out-of-pocket expenses incurred by an attorney typify costs.

A contingency fee, which is generally a percentage of the net proceeds recovered in a settlement or trial, is the payment a lawyer receives for a favorable case outcome. The contingency fee charged by a lawyer normally averages around 1/3 of the net recovery in a civil case.

For the sake of assumption, let us take up a contract that requires a 33 percent contingency fee paid to the lawyer. If the plaintiff wins an award of $200,000 and out-of-pocket expenses of the attorney are $10,000, the attorney keeps $66,000 (33 percent of $200,000) in addition to the $10,000 spent by them.

Sliding Scale Contingency Fee

Your attorney may ask for a contingency fee on a sliding scale in the contract, which takes into account the additional time and resources they spent in pursuing your case. Typically, a contingency fee contract may include these conditions (the percentages below are only for representation, and may vary):

  • 30 percent, if a court appearance is not required
  • 35 percent for a negotiated settlement before a trial begins
  • 40 percent if the case goes to trial and there is a favorable jury verdict

Is There a Standard Contingency Fee Percentage That Attorneys Charge?

You pay an attorney working on a contingency fee basis only when they are successful in securing a financial recovery in your civil liability case. Even after that, any payment that you make pertaining to your attorney’s fees or as repatriation of their out-of-pocket case-related expenses comes out of the settlement or jury award in the form of a percentage agreed upon in the contract.

This percentage may vary across the board, depending upon the specific circumstances of your case and also the reputation of the law firm hired by you. Typically, the percentage of the contingency fee is around 33 percent, or one-third of the net recovery amount. However, an attorney or law firm may charge a higher percentage if they feel they are taking a higher financial risk in fighting the case on your behalf.

It is always prudent to speak with your attorney and clearly understand all the fees and case costs ahead of retaining them for your case.

Benefits of Contingency Fees

Financial Safeguard

When a lawyer charges their legal fee on a contingency basis, it makes your payment of their legal services contingent upon their securing a favorable settlement or verdict in your favor. If you are financially constrained, with no sufficient means to settle the legal fee on your own, the contingency fee agreement is an ideal financial safeguard.

Affordability

Representation on a contingency fee basis helps a plaintiff to afford quality legal guidance, irrespective of their financial standing. It is a common practice in personal injury trials, medical malpractice cases, and sexual harassment litigations.

No Financial Risk

In a contingency fee basis case, in addition to there being no need for you to pay an upfront retainer fee to hire an attorney for their services, the attorney will also bear the out-of-pocket case expenses, so you have no financial risk.

Motivational Value

An indisputable benefit of an attorney working on your case on a contingency fee basis is that it serves as a forceful motivating factor. The higher the damages they recover, the more your lawyer stands to gain, which may spur them on to fight more aggressively to win the maximum possible compensation on your behalf.

Find a Personal Injury Attorney to Fight Your Case on a Contingency Fee Basis in Georgia

If you are the victim of an accident caused by someone else’s negligence or gross misconduct, the seasoned personal injury attorneys at Stein & Fox LLC offer strong legal representation on a contingency fee basis.

You can retain the high-quality services of our firm without paying anything unless we win your case. Call us today at 770-691-6937 or contact us online to schedule a free and confidential initial consultation with one of our attorneys.

Why Your Injury Lawyer Should Have Trial Experience

Thinking of hiring an attorney for your personal injury compensation claim? Do you picture a big courtroom in your mind, with your lawyer leaving the opposition nonplussed with his or her oratorical skills before a jury? Well, statistically, not even 5 percent of personal injury claims in the US go to trial.

An overwhelming majority of these cases settle during negotiations with the defendant or their insurance company, before they reach the trial stage. But this does not mean that trial experience is not important. There are a number of reasons why you should find an attorney who has a successful track record inside the courtroom.

The Importance of a Lawyer with Trial Experience

If you look at the advertisements, you will find that all lawyers have some type of “experience”. However, you may need to carry out due diligence and dig deeper to ensure that you retain an attorney who has proven results.

It should be a cause of concern for you if a potential lawyer on your list is not particularly forthcoming in this regard. A successful trial attorney should be more than willing to answer any questions about their cases and trial results.

The importance of trial experience cannot be stressed enough when hiring a lawyer to represent you for a personal injury claim. An attorney with substantial trial experience will not only possess the competence and skills to persuade a jury in your favor, but also command respect from the insurance company’s lawyers.

What if Your Case Goes to Trial?

Even if the odds of your case going to trial are small, there is always a possibility of settlement negotiations breaking down, and you finding yourself headed for litigation. Just the prospect of a court trial often has a significant impact on the value of your case, irrespective of whether it actually ends up in a courtroom or not.

If the pretrial negotiations fail to break the impasse, your lawyer must be ready and willing to represent you in court. A lawyer with no trial experience could be a huge liability at this stage. This is the precise reason why you as a plaintiff must look for a personal injury lawyer with trial experience.

How a Lawyer with Trial Experience can be an Asset in Settlement Negotiations? 

You need all the leverage you can get in order to negotiate from a position of strength. Otherwise, you run the risk of the insurance claims adjuster placing a much lower offer on the table than your claim is really worth.

Retaining an attorney with considerable trial acumen can protect your interests even at the negotiating table. The reason is that the insurer may offer less if it senses that your lawyer is trial-shy, and settlement is the only option. Wielding the implicit threat of being trial-ready in case of a negotiation breakdown, can be a potent tactic.

Hire an Attorney with Trial Experience Relevant to Your Case

Depending upon the specifics of your case, a lawyer with just any trial experience might not work for your particular case. You must look for an attorney with sufficient experience and competence in handling claims similar to yours.

For instance, if you are filing a claim against a defective product maker, a lawyer with experience of handling only car accident claims might not be suitable. Try to look for credentials of winning similar cases as yours.

Some Common Warning Signals When Looking for a Trial Attorney

  • Flashy claims in advertising but with no credentials to back those claims
  • Lawyers who are not forthcoming in sharing their case results or answering questions about their experience
  • Lawyers with no trial experience whatsoever
  • Lawyers who also work for insurance companies

Questions You Need to Ask a Potential Law Firm

  • Can you give sufficient time to my case?
  • What is the combined experience of your lawyers in practicing personal injury cases?
  • What are the terms for your contingency fees?
  • Do you also represent insurance companies?
  • What is the worth of my case in your opinion?
  • How experienced is the actual lawyer handling my case?
  • Do you have expertise in gathering and evaluating the evidence related to my personal injury case?
  • What sets you apart from other law firms?

Be Discerning While Selecting a Personal Injury Attorney

It is important to be duly diligent when seeking legal counsel for your compensation claim. Spend time researching potential law firms and speaking with lawyers, on the phone or in person. Most personal injury lawyers will readily give you a free initial consultation with no obligation. They should be open to sharing their case experience and welcoming your questions.

You must keep in mind that this could be one of the most important decisions of your life, especially if you are seriously injured, out of work, and under tremendous financial strain due to your injuries. You need to choose a lawyer with substantial trial experience to help you recover full and fair compensation.

Hire a Skilled and Qualified Personal Injury Attorney in GA

A seasoned lawyer needs years of trial acumen to be able to represent clients successfully in personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits. If you or someone you love has suffered injuries and damages due to negligence or wrongdoing on the part of another individual or entity in Georgia, contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Stein & Fox LLP. For a free, no-obligation consultation and case assessment, call today at 770-691-6937 or send us a message online.

The Role of Expert Witnesses in a Car Accident Case

Opposite parties to a lawsuit call in expert witnesses, using their testimonies to bolster their respective cases. Typically, an expert witness is someone who is a professional with impeccable qualifications and extensive experience in a field related to the case.

Expert witnesses provide a thorough analysis, and answer questions related to disputed facts in the case. These questions may range from the economic and medical damages suffered by the plaintiff, to finding the at-fault party liable based on the evidence gathered at the accident site.

If you were involved in a car accident and are seeking to recover compensation for your injuries, your car accident attorney will try to strengthen your case and hold the at-fault party liable with the help of testimony from expert witnesses. Read on to find out more about expert witnesses and their impact on the case proceedings.

Types of Witnesses

Typically, in a personal injury case, there are two types of witnesses who may assist with their testimonies during the trial:

Accident Scene Witnesses

The accident eyewitnesses provide a description of what they witnessed at the scene of the crash. These eyewitness testimonies are crucial for law enforcement agencies and insurance companies working to identify and determine fault and culpability.

Expert Witnesses

These witnesses, experts in their respective fields, provide detailed insights and analysis to throw light on the economic, medical, and other aspects of the case. Their nuanced and more technical testimony often helps solve disputes surrounding an accident.

Types of Expert Witnesses in a Car Accident Case

Expert witnesses are trained specialists in their areas of expertise, with in-depth knowledge and impeccable credentials to back their opinions and analysis in their field. They are usually called upon to resolve disputes over a specific aspect of a case.

For instance, if your attorney wants to establish that a particular injury you sustained was caused by your accident, they may call upon a medical expert to evaluate the facts and determine whether their premise is correct. Here are some of the expert witnesses that might be called upon in a car accident case:

Medical Expert

A physician or an independent medical practitioner can review your injuries and provide opinions or reports on them. Medical experts can be from different medical fields, and the nature of your injuries along with the specific needs of your case will decide the type of expert required.

Mental Health Expert

A mental health expert can be called on by your attorney to discuss the impact of your injuries on your emotional and mental health, and also your quality of life.

Highway Safety Expert

Your attorney may ask a highway safety expert or an independent engineer to provide their testimony on the transportation and road conditions that may have led to the circumstances that had a direct or indirect effect on your car accident.

Accident Reconstruction Expert

An accident reconstruction expert can help recreate the sequence of events that eventually caused the car accident, and your subsequent injuries. This will help create an irrefutable link between the accident and your injuries.

Economic Expert

If the severity of your injuries forced your absence from work resulting in your financial woes, your attorney can call on an economist to testify about the compensation you deserve due to the substantial wage loss suffered by you because of your injuries.

The Disputes That an Expert Witness Can Help Settle in a Car Accident Case

Expert witnesses, through their scientific and in-depth testimonies, can help establish the two most paramount aspects of a car accident lawsuit; liability and damages:

Liability

Given Georgia’s modified comparative negligence laws, establishing liability and fault is a huge part of a car accident case. The plaintiff and their attorney may call on an accident reconstructionist to determine the at-fault driver’s speed, the impact of the forces during the collision, and other aspects of the accident.

The testimony of an accident reconstruction expert carries a lot of weight in establishing fault in a motor vehicle accident case. Your lawyer may also call upon specialists and engineers to discuss the impact of road design flaws or vehicle manufacturing defects on your car accident case.

Damages

An economist might be called upon to testify about the compensatory value of your lost wages and the financial costs of your injuries. Opinion of your doctor on the nature and extent of your injuries and treatments you might require in the future, along with the testimony of a rehabilitation specialist, will also contribute to helping the court decide on the amount of compensation to be awarded.

How a Georgia Car Accident Attorney Can Help You

A resourceful and skilled car accident attorney can work with experts to help establish fault and damages in your case. At Stein & Fox LLP, our lawyers help victims reclaim and restore their lives after a catastrophic car accident.

An experienced lawyer on our team can discuss your claim, help you with the paperwork and work along with the specialists to seek and recover the maximum possible compensation for your injuries. Call us today at 770-691-6937 or contact us online to receive a free initial consultation.