Lawyers that work on a contingency fee only receive a payment if they win a case for their clients. As a client, you do not put up any money upfront.
However, this does not mean the case is free if you lose. Clients still might pay for court costs and other expenses. According to The State Bar of California, your lawyer must disclose any estimated costs and produce a written agreement for any case with at least $1,000 in expenses.
Contingency fees are common for personal injury
Contingency fees are prevalent for personal injury cases. The most common contracts involve a payment only after the attorney recovers damages. However, the arrangements will vary from case to case. Never assume anything with your lawyer. Always get the details in writing.
Contingency fees help clients seek justice
The benefit of using a contingency fee is obvious. It allows people who cannot afford the high costs of legal fees to seek justice. If you already face a daunting amount of medical bills from your accident, going with an attorney who uses a contingency fee model is probably the best option.
In addition to the benefits of paying later, your lawyer will have an extra incentive to win your case. An attorney relying on contingency fees must be confident they will win the case. Otherwise, they do not receive payment. Lawyers who rely on retainer fees or fixed rates do not have to win their cases to make a living.
Make sure you ask your lawyer about a contingency fee and get a written agreement before hiring them. Every fee structure has pros and cons, so consider your options carefully.