How Contingency Fees Work in Personal Injury Cases

July 28, 2017 | Attorney, Matthew Dolman
How Contingency Fees Work in Personal Injury Cases

When you are in an accident and sustain personal injuries as a result of someone else's negligence, you need experienced legal representation on your side every step of the way. In a personal injury case, a knowledgeable and skilled lawyer can be very helpful to you throughout your case.

A lawyer may be able to field settlement offers and negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf – highlighting the strengths of your case and downplaying any weaknesses. If the insurance company refuses to place a favorable settlement offer on the table, an experienced litigator will be able to take your case to trial and advocate for you in the courtroom.

Two common questions that personal injury plaintiffs and prospective clients ask, understandably, is “what is the attorney's fee going to be” and “who is going to pay it”? Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, like most plaintiff personal injury firms, handles cases on a contingency fee basis. Basically, what this means is that you are not charged an attorney's fee unless you recover money in your case – either by way of a settlement, judgment, or jury verdict.

This article provides a brief summary of how contingency fees work in New Port Richey personal injury cases and answer some common questions that clients and prospective clients ask.

Who Pays the Contingency Fee?

A contingency fee is paid out of the settlement, judgment, or verdict proceeds of a personal injury case. For example, if the case settles out of court, the contingency fee and expenses will be paid out of the settlement proceeds and a net check will be issued to the plaintiff at the end of the case. If the case goes to trial and the jury awards money, the attorney's fee will be paid out of the total jury award.

When is the Contingency Fee Paid?

The contingency fee is paid out of the case proceeds following the conclusion of a jury trial or after a settlement is reached with the opposing party's insurance company (or with the plaintiff's insurance company, in the case of an uninsured or underinsured motorist claim). In a contingency fee arrangement, you do not need to worry about hourly fees or making payments while your case is making its way through litigation.

What is a Settlement Disbursement Sheet?

At the end of your case, prior to disbursing funds, your attorney will prepare something called a settlement disbursement sheet. The settlement disbursement sheet will list the gross settlement amount or jury verdict at the top and will set forth the various deductions, including the attorney's fee, file expenses, medical bills, and lien amounts that must be subtracted from the gross funds. The amount of your net proceeds will be listed at the bottom of the settlement disbursement sheet.

After reviewing, signing, and returning the settlement disbursement sheet to your attorney, a check will be issued to you for the net proceeds in your case. It is important to note that personal injury settlement proceeds are not taxable under federal or state law. Therefore, you will never need to declare your settlement proceeds or jury verdict proceeds as income on your federal or state income taxes.

What is a Contingency Fee Agreement (CFA)?

Prior to beginning representation in a case, your attorney will ask you to sign a contingency fee agreement – or CFA. The contingency fee agreement will establish the percentage fee amount that will be subtracted from the gross settlement or jury verdict proceeds in your case. Once you sign and return the CFA, your lawyer can take on your case and begin representing you. Prior to signing the agreement, you should make sure that you fully understand everything in the agreement. You should direct any questions to your attorney.

How much is the Contingency Fee?

The amount (or percentage) of the contingency fee that an attorney charges in a personal injury case depend on several factors. Some of the most important factors include the following:

  • Novelty and complexity of the personal injury case
  • Experience of the attorney(s) who is/are handling the case
  • Nature and extent of the injuries and damages involved in the case
  • Whether a lawsuit has been filed
  • Whether the case is resolved via settlement or at trial
  • The individual needs of the client

Most lawyers charge a 1/3 (or 33 1/3% contingency fee) if the case settles before a lawsuit is filed and a 40% contingency fee once suit is filed. Other lawyers will charge a 1/3 fee prior to trial and a 40% fee if the case must be resolved at trial. The most common percentages for contingency fees are 25%, 33 1/3%, and 40%. Under the Florida Rules of Professional Conduct, a contingency fee may not be unreasonable or excessive.

The experienced personal injury lawyers at Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA are committed to providing you with cost-effective legal representation and will work with you to arrive at a mutually agreeable fee arrangement that fits your unique circumstances and needs.

What if I do not Recover Anything in my Personal Injury Case?

If you do not recover anything in your case via settlement or jury trial, you will not be charged an attorney's fee under a contingency fee agreement. As such, your personal injury attorney has a tremendous incentive to work hard on your case and obtain a favorable settlement or jury verdict for you.

The experienced personal injury lawyers at Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA will be able to help you decide whether you should accept an insurance company's settlement offer or take your case to trial. Our attorneys will also be able to let you know how much money you will get if you decide to accept an insurance company's settlement offer in a personal injury case.

Contact a New Port Richey Personal Injury Lawyer Today to Discuss Your Case

A good personal injury attorney will never charge an hourly fee for services. If you have sustained personal injuries and damages as a result of someone else's negligence, the skilled and knowledgeable attorneys at Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA will be able to formulate a contingency fee agreement that is fair for everyone involved. Our experienced attorneys will also take as much time as necessary to explain the contingency fee agreement to you and answer all of your questions.

To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with a New Port Richey personal injury lawyer, please call us or contact us online.

Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA 5435 Main Street New Port Richey, FL 34652 (727) 477-9660


Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has successfully fought for more than 11,000 injured clients and acted as lead counsel in more than 1,000 lawsuits. Always on the cutting edge of personal injury law, Matt is actively engaged in complex legal matters, including Suboxone, AFFF, and Ozempic lawsuits.  Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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