what is a contingency fee?

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.


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.

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