Contingency Fee

When you’re recovering from an accident in South Carolina, navigating the legal landscape can be as challenging as the physical rehabilitation you may face. Mounting medical bills, lost wages, and the stress of the unknown can turn the pursuit of justice into an added burden. 

Most personal injury lawyers accept cases on a contingency fee basis. This means you get the legal representation you need to pursue your case with no out-of-pocket attorneys’ fees. 

Common Types of Attorneys’ Fee Arrangements

Common Types of Attorneys’ Fee Arrangements

There are three types of fee structures that attorneys commonly use: fixed fee, hourly rate, and contingency fee. 

  • Fixed fee: This is a fixed amount that you agree to pay the attorney for their services. It’s common for routine legal services like drafting a basic will or handling a simple real estate transaction. 
  • Hourly rate: In this arrangement, attorneys charge for each hour or part of an hour that they work on your case. Rates can vary greatly depending on the attorney’s experience, operating expenses, and the going rates in the community.
  • Contingency fee: This is a payment arrangement that allows you to avoid out-of-pocket costs. The lawyer takes a specific percentage of the amount you recover if your case is successful. If you do not recover anything, the attorney receives no legal fees. You may still be responsible for certain expenses. 

There are rules on the types of fee arrangements allowed in certain cases. South Carolina Court Rules prohibit contingency fees in criminal defense cases and many domestic relations matters. 

What Is a Contingency Fee Agreement?

Contingency fees give accident victims access to legal representation without a substantial upfront cost. By signing a contingency fee agreement, your lawyer agrees to accept a specified share of the amount you recover. You only pay your attorney’s fees if they recover compensation for you. If you do not recover anything, you are not responsible for paying attorneys’ fees. 

The contingency fee agreement specifies the percentage of your recovery the lawyer is entitled to. 

It should also address other costs involved in your case. This includes document fees, court fees, and costs like hiring expert witnesses. Some lawyers pay these expenses as they are incurred and reimburse their law firm from settlement or award proceeds. Others require that you pay these costs as they happen, potentially with a deposit paid to the lawyer for expenses.

How Are Contingency Fees Paid?

When your case settles, or you recover a jury award, the attorneys’ contingency fee will be deducted from your recovery. There may be other expenses, liens, and fees that are deducted before you receive your money. 

Your settlement check will likely go to your personal injury lawyer. 

Before you receive any funds, proceeds are distributed to different entities: 

  • Liens. You may have medical liens attached to your case that must be paid first. Common examples include workers’ compensation liens, health insurance liens, and medical provider liens. 
  • Expenses and court fees. Court filing fees, expert fees, document fees, postage fees, and other costs are deducted from your settlement. 
  • Attorneys’ fees. Your lawyer’s contingency fee will be deducted last. 

The remaining amount will be paid to you. 

Make sure the contingency agreement specifies which fees and costs are deducted.

What Is the Average Contingency Fee?

The percentage for a contingency fee arrangement may depend on many factors, like the type of case, complexity, and the lawyer’s experience. There may be a sliding scale with a lower fee for pre-lawsuit settlement offers, a higher fee if a lawsuit is filed, and an even higher contingency fee if your case goes to trial. This reflects the increased time and effort invested and the higher risk. 

A typical contingency fee is 33.33%. With a sliding scale arrangement, the contingency fee may range from 25% to 40%, for example.

Contact an Experienced Rock Hill Personal Injury Lawyer for a Free Consultation

Contingency fee agreements allow accident victims to get the legal representation they need to recover damages without significant out-of-pocket costs. The fee structure also means that clients and their attorneys have a shared goal of maximizing the payout. 

If you have been hurt in an accident, a Rock Hill personal injury lawyer is here to help you. Contact Elrod Pope Accident & Injury Attorneys at 803-324-7574 to discuss your case and learn more about contingency fee arrangements.