Most people in need of an attorney often believe that obtaining legal guidance is out of the question due to financial concerns. Lawyers typically charge hourly rates, and with complicated legal issues, bills can quickly rack up. Some lawyers, however, choose to accept cases on their merits, structuring compensation in ways that allow clients to pay if and when they recover financially. This alternative fee arrangement is known as a contingency fee and can help those with limited financial means obtain the justice and recovery they deserve in the event of wrongdoing.
What is a Contingency Fee
In a contingency fee case, the client pays no upfront legal fees to their attorney. Instead, the attorney will be paid at the end of the case, typically a percentage of any financial recovery by the client/plaintiff. The exact percentage, as well as any reimbursement of costs such as court fees, fees for witnesses or expenditures, will be negotiated at the time the client retains or hires the lawyer.
Under Georgia law, all contingency fees must be thoroughly discussed and documented with the client signing a retainer agreement that fully explains the fee structure. Georgia also requires that the client pay any and all court fees. In many cases, the attorney can advance these fees and then deduct the cost from the award at the end of the case. Attorneys will answer any and all questions their client may have about the benefits of standard fee structures versus contingency in their particular legal claim or case. Contingency fees will often vary based on the type of law, difficulty in trying the case and stage of resolution. It is common to see retainer agreements that charge different percentages based on whether the case settles before a lawsuit is filed or after suit is filed. There can be additional variances if the case gets appealed.
In What Type of Cases Would I Expect a Contingency Fee?
Since contingency fees are paid out of any award, these types of payment arrangements are only used for cases when monetary compensation is at stake. Contingency fees may be limited in cases where the plaintiff desires a specific outcome, such as the return of property or a tenant vacating a building. Contingency fee arrangements are often used in personal injury, malpractice, debt recovery and similar instances where the client is seeking money.
Contingency fees are often desirable to not just those with little to no economic means but even to wealth sophisticated individuals. The risk is 100% borne by the lawyer.
One advantage to the contingency fee arrangement is that it ensures equal access to legal advice and representation, regardless of monetary considerations. Contingency fee cases also ensure that a lawyer’s interests are closely aligned with those of their clients since no payment will be received unless the lawyer helps obtain a recovery.
Do I Have a Georgia Contingency Fee Case?
If you have suffered an injury, or have a legal case that involves a potential monetary award, you should discuss whether a contingency fee is right for your case with an experienced attorney. Your attorney will review the facts of your injury or claim and provide an analysis of your ability to recover. Financial means shouldn’t be a limitation to competent and diligent legal counsel.