FAQ: What is a contingency fee and how does it work?

A contingency fee agreement is a method of hiring a lawyer for your case without actually paying any money out of pocket to the lawyer. It only works in cases where the client is making a claim against another individual/entity to get money. While the agreements vary from lawyer to lawyer, the basic concepts are that the lawyer works on the case and bears the burden of covering all expenses that arise during the litigation in exchange for a percentage of the gross recovery (typically between 33% to 50% depending on the type of case) obtained in the case through either settlement or judgment. The costs and fees in a case can range from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands or more depending on the complexity of the case. Most common costs are filing fees, fees for medical or other records, costs of depositions, expert witness fees, demonstrative evidence costs, etc. When the case is resolved either through settlement or payment of judgment, the lawyer receives the agreed upon percentage of the total recovery as well as the repayment of all expenses incurred in the case. The remainder is paid to the client.

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