You have probably heard the ads on TV, radio, or online: A lawyer offers to take your case for free, and you do not pay unless you win. This is what is known as a “contingency” fee arrangement and it applies to certain cases in Baltimore County, MD. However, the billing structure is not as simple as the advertisements suggest. Plus, contingency fees are only available in matters where it is suitable for both lawyers and their clients. Here are some of the details on how Baltimore County personal injury lawyers handle contingency fee arrangements.
Cases Where Contingency Fees Are Common: A lawyer will likely request a contingency arrangement in personal injury cases, like car accidents, workplace incidents, slip-and-fall matters, medical malpractice, and related occurrences. When you lose a close family member in a wrongful death case due to someone else’s misconduct, many attorneys will also charge on a contingency fee basis. In Maryland, lawyers are prohibited by rule from contingent billing in matters involving domestic disputes and certain criminal cases.
Contingency Fee Billing Structure: Under a contingency arrangement, you only pay your attorney for fees if you win your case. The amount you pay will be a percentage of the total amount you recover from the responsible party or their insurance company, usually ranging from 33 percent up to 40 percent. The exact percentage will depend on your specific circumstances. However, Maryland law states that the contingency fee percentage must be reasonable at the time you retain your lawyer in order to be enforceable.
Expenses Not Included in Percentage Fee: Contingency arrangements typically only apply to the fees charged by a personal injury lawyer, as separate from other costs. After your attorney deducts the percentage amount in the contingency agreement, other amounts may go towards:
- Court Costs: These are fees related to initiating a lawsuit and filing certain documents in court.
- Fees for Consulting Experts: Your attorney may hire consultants may help you prepare for trial. They will charge a fee to help with the evidence and support for your case, usually by the hour.
- Fees for Testifying Experts: Your lawyer may call other specialists to testify at trial before a jury or judge, in order to support your arguments. These consultants also charge a fee for their time and expertise.
- Expenses Related to Discovery: It’s likely that your attorney needs to take depositions for your personal injury case. There are costs related to a court reporter and obtaining a copy of the transcript.
A “Win” Under Contingency Arrangements: When you hear “you do not pay unless you win,”
it is important to understand what constitutes a victory. If you obtain a reasonable settlement to reimburse you for your losses after an accident, this is considered a win – regardless of whether you go to court. If you receive any money as compensation, the contingency arrangement applies and your attorney will charge a fee and other expenses.
Contingency fee arrangements are not available in all cases, but they are very helpful if you are a victim of an auto accident or other personal injury matter. When finances are tough, a qualified lawyer can help you pursue the responsible party and bill you only when you win. For more information on how contingency fees work in Baltimore County cases, please contact personal injury attorney Michael A. Freedman.
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