What Is A Contingency Fee?

William W. Hurst – Personal Injury Lawyer, Indianapolis, IN

The Personal injury lawyers at the Law Office of William W. Hurst often hear prospective clients say they are wary of hiring an attorney because they don’t have the money to pay one. We understand this is an issue for most people bringing a personal injury claim resulting from a car accident, semi-truck accident, or motorcycle accident and for that reason we operate on a contingency fee basis.

A contingency fee is an agreement between you and your attorney that says you will pay him/her contingent on him/her settling your case. This means you don’t pay your attorney a dime unless he/she gets compensation for your injuries. Let’s take a closer look at how this works.

Contingency Fee Structure

When a lawyer and client enter into a contingency fee arrangement, they typically do so with a document called a fee agreement. The agreement is a kind of contract that sets out the terms of the contingency fee relationship. The agreement will state, for example, that the attorney is entitled to receive a certain Contingency Feepercentage of any winnings you receive out of the case and be reimbursed for any expenses he/she has paid on your behalf in order to properly litigate the claim. Though the specific percentage the agreement states will differ from state to state and from attorney to attorney, it’s typically around thirty percent. Some lawyers charge you more if the case goes to trial (up to 40%) and even more if the case is appealed. We charge 1/3 no matter what.


It’s important to realize that there might be some additional costs involved with your lawsuit that your attorney will be reimbursed for before his/her percentage is calculated. Many attorneys require, for example, that the client pay for necessary expenses, such as the cost of filing the lawsuit, travel expenses, and other costs that might arise.

Whenever you talk to a lawyer, it’s important that you discuss the fee arrangement in as much detail as possible. You need to be clear about the terms of the agreement, how much your attorney is entitled to receive should you win, and what, if any, fees or costs you’ll be responsible for paying.

Contingency Fee

After costs are subtracted out the attorney is entitled to the percentage of the remaining settlement amount that you agreed to in the original fee agreement.

Determining How Much You Pay

Just to illustrate how this works let’s work through a hypothetical. Let’s say you hire an attorney on a contingency basis. The fee agreement says that your attorney shall be reimbursed for any costs associated with litigating your claim and is entitled to 30% of the settlement amount after costs are subtracted out. The attorney files a lawsuit, you go through the discovery process, and eventually the two sides agree to settle for $100,000. In order to litigate your claim your attorney paid $10,000 out of pocket. Your attorney would first take the $10,000 as reimbursement for the costs of litigating the claim, leaving a remaining $90,000. Then your attorney will take the 30% you agreed to at the beginning, $27,000. This leaves you with $67,000.

Call and Experienced Indianapolis Personal Injury Lawyer

If your family member or friend has been seriously injured due to the negligence of another contact an experienced Personal Injury Lawyer immediately. As you can see time is imperative and the sooner you hire an attorney the more helpful they can be. Personal Injury claims require quick and experienced legal and investigative response to preserve any evidence and help present your case in the best light possible. Contact the Attorneys at the Indianapolis Law Office of William “Bill” Hurst or call us toll free at (800) 636-0808 for a free consultation. ¡Hablamos Español!

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Indianapolis Personal Injury Law William W. Hurst
William W. Hurst

Bill Hurst has successfully represented hundreds of accident victims, and has limited his practice to personal injury cases for over thirty-five (35) years.

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