Contingent Fee Agreements

One question I’ve been asked many times over the years is what are contingent fee agreements? In my opinion contingent fee agreements are the best thing since sliced bread for those who have been intentionally or negligently injured and do not have the financial resources to hire top-rated personal-injury trial attorneys. The government, big business, and of course the insurance industry collectively employ thousands of the best lawyers that money can buy.   So when you need a personal injury or workers compensation attorney invariably you will have to ask yourself how much can I afford to pay an attorney whose normal hourly fee would be hundreds of dollars per hour. Unless you’re in the top 1% of earners in this country the answer is you porbably can’t afford to hire an attorney at all, let alone one of the better ones in your area. The genius of the contingent fee agreement is that the attorney you hire and you agree to a percentage of the amount of compensation that the attorney ultimately obtains for you. The contingent fee that most attorneys charge is usually between 33 1/3% to 40% in most personal injury cases and around 20% for workers compensation claims.   This arrangement allows normal citizens and even the financially disadvantaged to hire some of the best attorneys in their state to represent them in their quest to be compensated for a loss that they never asked for and certainly never wanted to suffer.   So why not cut the attorney out of the loop and save a ton of money by simply going to the person that hurt you or wait until their nice insurance company makes you a fair offer to settle your claim . Sounds logical, right, and in a perfect world this would probably work.  The problem is that whoever caused your loss doesn’t feel your pain and whoever is ultimately responsible for compensating you is certainly in no hurry to do so. Too often their definition of fair is what is fair for them which is usually an offer that varies from very little to nothing at all. I’ve never come across an insurance company that thought an offer of nothing was unfair to them.   Under a contingent fee arrangement the attorney’s financial well-being or fee and your fair compensation are directly tied to together. I realize this sounds odd but in serious injury claims a knowledgeable client who has hired an attorney under a fee contingency wants the attorney’s fee to be as large as possible knowing full well that the remainder of the award is their compensation. Therefore it’s always in the client’s best interest to hire the most skilled trial attorney possible in injury cases. I’ve spent over 30 years observing and working with some of the best trial lawyers on the planet.  The common thread among them is that they are all great communicators and totally dedicated to their clients. The lawyers to avoid are the ones trying to pop out of the television screen into your living room screaming that they will get you money, big money, money now etc. etc. I’m familiar with many of those guys too and as a general rule most of them couldn’t successfully try a personal injury case if their life depended on it.   That said if you have a serious personal injury claim you need to hire the right lawyer.  Do diligent research to find the right attorney for your claim and if I can help with your search feel free to let me know. All the Best, Bill Hayes

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