Most personal injury lawyers do not charge by the hour. Instead, they charge a contingency fee. In a contingency fee arrangement, a lawyer’s fees will be deducted from any settlements or judgments awarded in the cases that they accept. Most contingency fees are a percentage of the money the lawyer recovers for the client. This percentage can vary and some lawyers offer a sliding scale based on how far along the case is when it is settled. The typical contingency fee range is between 33 and 40%. This means that clients usually do not have to give the attorney money up front (a retainer fee) in order to hire the attorney. When personal injury lawyers lose a case for their client, they usually receive nothing.
Contingency fees are most likely charged in personal injury cases, accidental claims, property damage cases, or other cases where a large amount of money is in contention.
Most personal injury lawyers will deduct any expenses that were covered by the lawyer.
New York’s rules of professional conduct do not say how much a lawyer should charge for a case. The rules only say that a fee must not be excessive.
Rule 1.5(a) of the New York Rules of Professional Conduct provides that a lawyer should not “make an agreement for, charge, or collect an excessive or illegal fee or expense.” A fee is considered excessive when a “reasonable” lawyer would consider it excessive after reviewing the facts. Rule 1.5(a) identifies eight factors to assess the reasonableness of the fee.
- The time and labor involved. This would take into consideration the “novelty and difficulty or questions involved” and the skill needed to properly perform the legal service.
- The likelihood that the acceptance of the job will preclude other employment by the lawyer.
- The typical fee charged for similar legal services in the same area.
- The amount involved and the results obtained
- The time limitations imposed by the client or by circumstances
- The nature and length of the professional relationship with the client
- The experience, reputation and ability of the lawyer or lawyers performing the service
- Whether the fee is fixed or contingent.
According to Rule 1.5(c) there must be a written agreement in all contingency fee cases. This should detail the method by which the fee is determined, including the percentage or percentages paid to the lawyer in the event of a settlement, trial or appeal; other expenses that would be deducted from the recovery; and any other expenses which the client will be liable regardless of whether the client wins financial compensation or not.