If you have a personal injury case you should only hire a lawyer on what’s called a contingency fee. That means the lawyer only gets paid if they win your case and collect money from the insurance companies. It’s important to only hire a contingency fee lawyer because that’s basically a guarantee that you won’t owe any legal fees without a positive outcome. Cases can settle at three different stages and at each stage of the case the percentage or fee usually goes up. A typical fee structure starts at 33.33% of the total settlement. That stage is called Pre-litigation and it’s where the majority of injury cases should and do settle. That means no law suit was ever filed and your attorney was able to get the case settled directly with the insurance company. That can take as long as it needs to and often times can take 6 months to a year depending on your healing time after being injured. Your lawyer should not charge you a higher percentage just because they have had your case for 60, 90, or even 120 days. The fee should not go up just because your case is taking a long time because many cases do take a long time but some lawyers try to increase their fee based on how long they have had the case. If you see this type of provision in a contingency fee contract you should reject that term and probably find a new lawyer. The proper time for a contingency fee to increase is at the second stage of a case called litigation. That’s when the lawyer has to file a lawsuit and go to court. At that point the fee usually goes up to 40% and this is typical. But the only reason your lawyer should file a lawsuit is the increase the value of your case or protect your statute of limitations. If the lawyer actually litigates your case which means you have answered written discovery and attended a deposition and doctor of the defendants choosing, then at that point your case is actively being litigated and the higher fee is warranted. If your lawyer simply filed a lawsuit just to increase the fee from 33.33% to 40% that isn’t increasing the value and is not something you should agree to in the contract. The final stage where an injury case can settle is at trial. If a case makes it all the way through litigation and goes to trial the fees can typically range from 45% to 50% depending on the difficulty and length of the trial. If your lawyer has had to disclose experts and build your case for trial then they have worked hard to increase the value of your case and the increase in fee is justified. At the law offices of J.Chrisp we handle cases that settle at all three stages and we make sure to put the clients interests first as it should be. If you have questions about a contingency a lawyer is trying to get you to sign and your not sure give us a call today or text us.