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What is a contingency fee?

Posted at 4:01 PM, Feb 23, 2018

This article is written by Peters and Associates.


A contingency fee is an an amount of money an attorney will be paid if and when a case is won.

Generally, these fees are a percentage of any recovery award or settlement and are paid to the attorney before money is distributed to the client.

For a typical Nevada personal-injury case, contingency fees range from 15 percent to 50 percent. A 15 percent contingency is the lowest I have seen in my time as a Las Vegas attorney.

The exact percentage may depend on whether a case goes to trial or is settled, the amount of damages, the potential up-front cost to the lawyer or the merits of the case.

Contingency fees have some noticeable benefits to the client. Because the legal fees are set up as a percentage of the outcome, your attorney may have incentive to get you the highest possible award (or settlement) allowed by law. In other words, the greater the recovery, the more the law firm earns in fees.

However, be wary of an attorney who may want to settle too quickly, just to earn a fast buck.

Clients may see another up-front benefit to their pocketbooks. Your attorney and his or her staff will be putting hours of time and effort into winning your case. When not on contingency, billable hour fees quickly can run into the tens of thousands of dollars and usually are paid as the work is done, not when it’s finished.

When taking a case on contingency, the lawyer or law firm is fronting the hard costs for the case and the client doesn’t have to pay out-of-pocket expenses as the case progresses.

While discussing contingency fees, it’s important to note they are not applicable to every case or lawsuit. It’s up to each attorney to decide whether he or she will take your case on contingency.

In addition, some types of cases, such as bankruptcy, aren’t conducive to the contingency model.


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Please note: The information in this column is intended for general purposes only and is not to be considered legal or professional advice of any kind. You should seek advice that is specific to your problem before taking or refraining from any action and should not rely on the information in this column.