Pro Bono Lawyers and Contingency Cases
You aren’t alone if you are struggling to afford an attorney to represent you during court proceedings or in negotiations. Often times one side of the aisle doesn’t have a lawyer at all. And it’s not uncommon that when you need a lawyer the most is when you can’t afford one. This happens particularly in cases like injury, divorce, job loss, death of a loved one, or illness. But if you spend some time searching, there are lawyers available to work on a pro bono basis or using financial models that reduce or eliminate the up front cost altogether.
In some cases, lawyers will take cases for free or on a pro bono basis when a victim is in need of legal assistance. Other times, lawyers will take cases on a contingency basis. This means the lawyer only gets paid if you win the case and receive a settlement. Contingency implies you pay no money up front out of pocket. Instead, the lawyer puts up money for all expenses related to your case. In this arrangement, you only pay a fee if you win, and that fee is typically deducted from the final case settlement or from the final verdict winnings if the case makes it to trial. On top of this fee, initial expenses fronted by the lawyer are also deducted from the settlement or verdict. Depending on the type of case, the lawyer’s percentage contingency fee will vary.
Don’t confuse pro bono or free legal help for contingency. While you don’t need up front money for either, they are different. Almost all attorneys will offer you a free consultation or hear your case brief on a pro bono basis. But much of the time, lawyers don’t actively advertise pro bono legal services, therefore it is often difficult to find these lawyers. If you can find a good pro bono attorney, they may go above and beyond what would normally be expected, and some will volunteer time to try cases for the disabled or financially disabled. A few state bar associations even require that lawyers provide a number of hours on a pro bono basis every year. So some attorneys may have available pro bono hours in which case they may take your case.
One of the benefits of using personalinjuryatty.com is that we can help find pro bono attorneys or contingency attorneys if you are having a hard time. It is not always a guarantee, but our mission is to match you up with the best attorney possible for your case and financial needs for FREE. With a strong network of personal injury lawyers, personainjuryatty.com wants to ensure that all wrongfully injured victims have access to the legal representation that they deserve. In many cases, however, these victims fail to take action simply because they do not have enough money to hire an attorney. We understand how important legal counsel can be, especially in cases when the victim has been catastrophically injured, or wrongfully killed.
A personal injury lawyer will almost always take cases based on a payment system called contingency basis. If the lawyer wins the case or procures a settlement, the fee is deducted as a percentage of the financial value. In these cases if the lawyers loses, they do not receive any fee or payment, and usually they’ll end up losing money invested in trying the case. Personalinjuryatty.com will assist in finding an experienced attorney especially suited to handle your case. We weed through the vast pool of personal injury lawyers to find the right, qualified attorney.
Depending on the state in which you live, the average contingency fee will differ from lawyer to lawyer. In the vast majority of states, the fee will range between 1/3 and 1/2 of an injury award. In workers’ compensation cases, the attorney fees are more tightly regulated and typically lower than injury fees. If your case has the potential to procure a large award, an attorney may be willing to negotiate a lower fee, but remember, you often get what you pay for. The highest quality, most qualified personal injury lawyers are unlikely to negotiate their fees under any circumstances. Knowing full well they can recover substantially higher awards than their competitors, they assume you’ll receive a great award regardless of the percentage of their fee.
And while we’ll do our best to find you the best lawyer for your case, feel free to interview several personal injury lawyers. It’s very unlikely you’ll be charged a fee for injury case consultations. No only will you not have to pay for that initial consultation, but if the lawyer agrees to work on a contingency basis, you won’t have to pay for any additional meeting time or any further work the lawyer performs on your case unless that lawyer wins. Be sure to clarify all of this with your attorney. Give the attorney all of the details related to your case – how you were injured, what medical treatments you’ve undergone, and what your doctor’s have told you.
These consultations are a two-way street. Not only are you determining whether this lawyer is right for you, but the lawyer will also be assessing your case and trying to decide if they are best suited for it. If a law office feels it will not be successful, they will decline your case because they will not get paid unless they win. Also, if the lawyer feels the case award potential is too small, they may decline your case because it would not be enough to both pay for the hours involved in trying the case and to compensate you.
Settlement Before Filing a Lawsuit
If you settle your case before filing an actual lawsuit, it’s likely that your lawyer can not receive more than 1/3 of the settlement value. Typically your lawyer will send a demand letter to the party at fault for your injury. This letter will provide an explanation of your injuries and it will demand compensation. When your case is strong enough, the guilty party usually makes a counter-offer, and you will proceed into negotiations. These steps occur before you officially file a lawsuit with the courts.
Settlement After Filing a Lawsuit
If the guilty party does not take settlement negotiations seriously or chooses not to respond to your demand letter, you may consider filing a lawsuit if your case is strong enough to assure victory. Unlike if settlement occurs before filing a lawsuit, where the lawyer’s fee is typically capped at 33%, if the settlement occurs after the lawsuit is filed, your lawyer may receive a higher percentage of the total value, usually up to 40%, but sometimes higher. Remember, on top of the lawyer’s fee, case expenses are also deducted from your settlement. These expenses can get very costly, so be sure to analyze these numbers carefully before rejecting a pre-lawsuit settlement offer.