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If I hire a “No fee unless you win” lawyer, how much can I expect to get?

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

When you hire a “no fee unless you win” lawyer, you are typically working with a personal injury attorney, and the arrangement is often referred to as a contingency fee agreement. In this type of arrangement, the attorney agrees to represent you without charging upfront fees. Instead, their fee is contingent on winning your case or obtaining a settlement on your behalf. If they do win your case or secure a settlement, they will take a percentage of the compensation awarded.

The specific percentage that the attorney will take can vary, but it’s typically around 33% to 40% of the total amount recovered. The exact percentage will depend on your agreement with the attorney and the complexity of your case. Keep in mind that you will also be responsible for other expenses related to your case, such as court fees, expert witness fees, and medical record retrieval costs, which are typically separate from the attorney’s contingency fee.

It’s essential to discuss the fee structure and all potential expenses with your attorney before entering into a contingency fee agreement. The amount you can expect to receive will depend on the circumstances of your case, the damages involved, and the outcome of your legal proceedings. Your attorney should provide a clear understanding of how the fees and expenses will be calculated and deducted from your compensation.

Why is hiring a “no fee unless you win” lawyer more beneficial in the long run?

Hiring a “no fee unless you win” lawyer, also known as a contingency fee lawyer, can be more beneficial for many individuals in the long run for several reasons:

1. No Upfront Costs: One of the primary advantages is that you do not need to pay any upfront legal fees. This can be especially helpful if you are facing financial constraints and cannot afford to pay attorney fees out of pocket.

2. Access to Legal Representation: It allows individuals who might not have the means to hire an attorney the opportunity to access legal representation. This can level the playing field and ensure that people have access to the justice system.

3. Motivation to Win: Contingency fee lawyers only get paid if they win your case or secure a settlement on your behalf. This creates a strong incentive for them to work diligently and effectively to maximize your compensation. They have a vested interest in getting you the best possible outcome.

4. Risk Mitigation: If your case is unsuccessful, you do not owe the attorney any fees. This can provide peace of mind and reduce the financial risk associated with pursuing a legal claim.

5. Quality Legal Representation: Contingency fee lawyers often have experience in handling personal injury and other cases similar to yours. They have the resources and expertise needed to navigate the legal process effectively, increasing your chances of a favorable outcome.

6. Higher Compensation: Due to their incentive to maximize your compensation, contingency fee lawyers may negotiate more aggressively and seek higher settlements or awards than you might achieve on your own.

7. No Fees for Unsuccessful Cases: If your case is not successful, you do not owe the attorney any fees. This means that you are not financially burdened by legal expenses in addition to any other losses you may have suffered.

It’s important to note that contingency fee agreements are primarily used in personal injury cases, such as car accidents or medical malpractice claims. Different types of legal matters may have different fee structures. Additionally, the specific terms of a contingency fee agreement can vary, so it’s essential to discuss the details with your attorney before entering into such an arrangement.

In what instance would hiring a “no fee unless you win” lawyer be not a good idea?

While hiring a “no fee unless you win” lawyer (contingency fee lawyer) can be beneficial in many cases, there are instances where it might not be the best option. Here are some scenarios where it may not be advisable:

1. Non-Personal Injury Cases: Contingency fee arrangements are most commonly used in personal injury cases, such as car accidents, slip and fall accidents, or medical malpractice. In other types of legal matters, such as family law, estate planning, or criminal defense, a contingency fee arrangement is typically not appropriate.

2. Low Damages or Simple Cases: If your case involves relatively low damages or is straightforward, it might not be cost-effective to hire a contingency fee lawyer. In such cases, you may be able to handle the legal matter yourself or find an attorney who charges reasonable hourly rates.

3. Insurance Claims: When dealing with an insurance claim, especially one with clear liability and limited damages, it may not be necessary to hire a contingency fee lawyer. You can often handle insurance claims directly with the insurance company or through an adjuster without legal representation.

4. Strong Liability and Clear Evidence: If liability in your case is clear, and there is substantial evidence supporting your claim, you may be able to negotiate a fair settlement with the responsible party or their insurance company without the need for legal representation. In such cases, hiring a lawyer may not significantly improve your outcome.

5. Desire for More Control: Some individuals prefer to have greater control over their legal proceedings and negotiations. If you want to be actively involved in the decision-making process and negotiations, you might choose to hire an attorney on an hourly basis or a fixed fee arrangement rather than a contingency fee arrangement.

6. Disagreements Over Strategy: If you have strong disagreements with the contingency fee lawyer regarding case strategy, settlement offers, or other key aspects of your case, it may not be a good fit. Effective communication and collaboration with your attorney are crucial, and if these are lacking, it can hinder your case’s progress.

7. Limited Availability of Contingency Fee Lawyers: In some areas or for certain types of cases, it may be challenging to find an attorney willing to work on a contingency fee basis. In such situations, you may have no choice but to hire an attorney who charges hourly or fixed fees.

Ultimately, the decision to hire a “no fee unless you win” lawyer should be based on the specific circumstances of your case and your individual preferences. It’s essential to carefully consider your options, consult with potential attorneys, and choose the arrangement that best suits your needs and objectives.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.