Understanding a Contingency Fee
Helping Our Clients on a Contingency Fee Basis
As a national personal injury law practice with offices located throughout the country, The Doan Law Firm realizes that most accidental injury victims and their families do not have the financial and social assets necessary to bring a lawsuit against those responsible for their injuries and other losses. The courts have long recognized this potential injustice and, as a consequence, each state allows lawyers to represent accident victims without the client having to pay any “upfront” fees. Such agreements are known as contingency fee agreements and form the legal basis behind the “If you don’t win you don’t pay” attorney advertisements on television.
You or a loved one has been injured due to the negligence of someone else. The last thing you need is to worry about how to pay a personal injury attorney to protect your rights and interests. At The Doan Law Firm, we understand the challenges you face injured because of the negligence of someone else, which why we offer our legal services on a contingency fee basis. We are committed to fighting for your rights to ensure that you obtain the level of compensation you are entitled to.
How a Contingency Fee Works
In simple terms, a contingency fee means that you do not pay our firm anything for legal representation unless and until we obtain a settlement of your claim or judgment in court in your favor. The fee is contingent upon The Doan Law Firm winning your case. If you receive no settlement or judgment, you owe our firm nothing.
Under a contingency fee agreement your lawyer agrees to manage your personal injury lawsuit without charging you a fee known as a retainer or an hourly rate for their services. Instead, you lawyer will receive an agreed-upon percentage of the final settlement awarded you by the court that hears your case. Additionally, in most contingency fee agreements your lawyer will agree to pay all expenses that he or she feels are necessary to assure that your lawsuit will be decided in your favor.
Legally, your lawyer is “loaning” you these costs and these expenses and other such loans must “repaid” when your lawsuit is settled. Examples of such expenses include:
- The costs of filing your lawsuit with the appropriate court, and the costs of serving notice of your lawsuit with the party or parties you are suing.
- The costs of obtaining depositions (“sworn statements”) from witnesses or others having specific knowledge of the facts in your case.
- The costs of locating expert witnesses to render opinions based on the facts of your case and the expense of bringing those experts to court to testify on your behalf.
- The costs of obtaining copies of all accident reports and any other documents that relate to supporting your lawsuit.
- Any other expenses that your lawyer feels are necessary to successfully prove your case in court.
How a Contingency Fee is Determined
A contingency fee is a percentage of any favorable settlement or judgment obtained in your case. Before you retain The Doan Law Firm, we reach a mutual agreement on the percentage of any settlement or judgment that will constitute our fee.
We believe in complete transparency when it comes to attorney fees and our clients. There will never be any surprises. You will know the precise percentage we charge as a fee upfront.
How a Contingency Fee is Paid
When a settlement or judgment is obtained in your favor, the agreed-to fee is deducted from that payment. You do not pay us anything before a settlement or judgment. You do not pay anything as a fee for services above and beyond what was agreed at the time you retain our firm to represent you in a personal injury case.
Some personal injury law firms bill clients for expenses during their course of representation. In other words, these lawyers expect a client to pay for the expenses associated with a case even before a client sees any money in the form of a settlement or judgment.
At The Doan Law Firm, we know you are dealing with enough without having to worry about fronting expenses in your personal injury case. Our firm pays all the necessary expenses associated with your case. Before you retain our firm, we reach a mutual agreement about how these fees will be reimbursed when a settlement or judgment is obtained.
Examples of what expenses might be incurred in a typical personal injury case include:
- Court filing fees and costs
- Preparation of trial exhibits
- Expert witness fees
We do not incur expenses unless they are absolutely necessary. Our goal as attorneys fighting for you is to obtain the maximum amount of compensation for your injuries.
Written Fee Agreement
Our fee agreements with clients are always in writing, in plain English. A personal injury attorney from our firm will discuss in detail a contingency fee agreement and answer any and all questions that you may have at any time.
Your Approval of a Settlement
In the final analysis, a personal injury claim is your case. You must approve the terms and conditions of any proposed settlement, including the dollar amount before an agreement is reached with the negligent party. Before any settlement is reached, your attorney from The Doan Law Firm will fully explain the settlement terms answer any questions.
If you are still in the process of seeking legal counsel, The Doan Law Firm will schedule an initial consultation with you to discuss and evaluate your case. We do not charge a fee for an initial consultation.
You can contact The Doan Law Firm 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year by calling (800) 349-0000. We will schedule an appointment at a time that is convenient for you, at one of our offices, in your home, or even in the hospital if you are still being treated for your injuries.
How Contingency Fees Work in Other States
Since each state is free to set its own standards of legal practices and procedures regarding personal injury lawsuits and contingency fee agreements, your lawyer must thoroughly explain the details of your contingency fee agreement in a manner that you can easily understand. As a national law firm, we are familiar with each state’s rules and/or regulations that govern contingency fee agreements.
Although it would be difficult to provide an in-depth revue of all such agreements, the examples presented below should demonstrate how contingency fees are determined:
- California: In California, contingency fees are usually ”capped” at not more than 40% of the total settlement awarded to the client and the lawyer is reimbursed for case preparation expenses and other fees before the contingency fee is calculated. Due to the potential complexity of California personal injury law, make certain that your lawyer clearly explains the options that can influence the percentage of his or her contingency fee agreement.
- Georgia: Georgia does not directly limit contingency fees in personal injury cases and allows a lawyer to negotiate their fees on a case by case basis. In general, “upfront costs” such as expenses involved in preparing a case for trial are deducted from the final settlement before the contingency fee is calculated.
- Michigan: Michigan law does not directly limit the percentage of the final settlement that a lawyer may charge as a contingency fee. Contingency fees and reimbursement of case preparation expenses are thus a matter to be negotiated by lawyers and their clients. However, the “customary” or “usual” contingency fee in Michigan personal injury cases is 33 1/3% of the final settlement.
- New York: In New York contingency fees are based on the type of personal injury case being filed, with fees in medical malpractice cases being subject to limits provided under state law. The lawyer is reimbursed for case preparation fees and expenses from the “gross” or “pre-expenses” settlement but the contingency fee is calculated based on the “net” settlement after expenses are deducted.
- Texas: Texas does not place an upper limit on contingency fees. Thus, the percentage of the final settlement that a lawyer will accept as payment is negotiated on a case-by-case basis with each client. Likewise, whether case preparation are deducted before or after the contingency fee is calculated is also negotiated by the lawyer and the client.
National Personal Injury Firm
In summary, the courts of each state recognize that contingency fee agreements enable those without financial resources to pursue lawsuits against those that are responsible for their injuries and other losses. Since contingency fee agreements are contracts, legally binding documents whose terms are enforceable by a court, it is vitally important that you understand your rights and obligations before you commit yourself to such an agreement.
As a national personal injury law practice, we at The Doan Law Firm are familiar with each state’s rules and regulations regarding contingency fee agreements and are willing to accept personal injury cases at no cost to our clients.
The Doan Law Firm has offices located in a variety of U.S. cities, including:
- San Antonio
- Fort Worth
- El Paso
- McAllen & Harlingen
- Midland & Odessa
- Corpus Christi
- Bryan & College Station
- New York
If you or a family member were injured in an accident of any type, we invite you to contact The Doan Law Firm to arrange a free, no obligation, review of the facts in your case and a discussion of the legal options that may be available to you. Should you decide that a lawsuit is in order, be sure to ask us how our contingency fee agreement can work to your advantage while you seek justice for your injuries and other losses.
We stand ready to fight for you. Call us today at (800) 349-0000.
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