A contingency fee is one method in which a lawyer may be paid by the person that they represent. When a contingency fee is used, the represented party does not have to pay their lawyer if they do not win their case. This may be helpful in situations in which the represented party does not have the funds to secure a lawyer using other funding options.
A contingency fee is derived as a percentage of the award received from a legal case. The specific percentage that is used in any case can vary from lawyer to lawyer. One of the most common contingency fee percentages used is 33%. However, it may sometimes be possible to arrange a “sliding” contingency fee in which the lawyer receives a greater percentage when a case progresses farther before being determined or settled. In some cases, courts may have limitations on the maximum contingency fee that a lawyer is eligible to receive. Some cases, like child support cases for example, do not allow lawyers to accept contingency fees. Contingency fees are most commonly used during personal injury lawsuits.
All fees, including the contingency fee, should be noted before any agreement with a lawyer is signed. There are often additional fees that need to be considered when beginning a lawsuit, including fees for filing a court case or payments made to court officials, including expert witnesses or court reporters. Regardless of whether a case is won or lost, these fees may need to be addressed apart from the contingency fee that is set between the lawyer and the party that they represent.