How Do Contingency Fees Compare to Other Fees?

contingency fees being explainedSome personal injury lawyers charge clients on a contingency fee basis, which requires no upfront out-of-pocket expenses for the client so it is often the best option. Lawyers who work on contingency get paid only if they are able to help their clients secure compensation, so the legal work is "contingent" upon this result.

While many accident victims may have heard the term "work on contingency," they may not understand how this fee arrangement works. However, it is important to understand this arrangement as it compares with other fee structures before retaining the services of a lawyer.

If you would like to learn more about how contingency fees work at Greg Monforton & Partners, contact our office today. We can discuss your case during a free consultation and explain how we can help you pursue the compensation and justice you need.

How Do Lawyers Charge a Client?

Legal fee arrangements can take on many different forms. It is important to understand the various types of fees a lawyer may charge, which include:

Retainer Fee

Some lawyers charge a retainer fee. This is a fee that a client usually pays up front, because it serves as a down payment for legal services.

Having a lawyer “on retainer” often means that a lawyer is available if a legal problem comes up, and the client pays the fee to guarantee this availability and representation. This is more common in commercial (business) cases. Some lawyers charge this fee initially and then charge other types of fees like those identified below.

Hourly Fees

Many lawyers charge on an hourly basis. The hourly rate may be based on a number of factors, including:

  • The complexity of the case
  • The relief being sought
  • The legal issues involved
  • The skill necessary to pursue the matter
  • The amount of money involved in the legal matter
  • The seriousness of the legal matter

Clients who pay lawyers an hourly fee receive the bill as part of the billing cycle. The bill may show a certain number of hours multiplied by the hourly rate.


In addition to fees for a lawyer’s services, some lawyers also charge for disbursements. These are actual expenses that a lawyer incurred and may have paid on behalf of the client but now seeks reimbursement. Some types of disbursements include:

  • The cost to acquire certain certificates
  • Long-distance phone charges
  • Costs to acquire medical reports or other documents
  • Photocopying charges
  • Charges to obtain a copy of the accident report

Contingency Fees

A contingency fee arrangement is one in which the lawyer’s pay is determined only by the outcome of the case. If the client receives money from the case – such as through a jury verdict or an insurance settlement – the lawyer gets paid a certain percentage of the amount recovered that he or she and the client agreed to.

If the client loses the case or does not obtain compensation, the client is not responsible for the payment of any lawyer fees.

A contingency fee arrangement usually shifts the risk to the lawyer, who may invest considerable time and resources to pursue a case, but may wind up being paid nothing in the end. This is usually the best arrangement for clients who cannot afford to pay upfront legal fees or who do not want to risk losing money.

Are Contingency Fees Better for a Client?

In many ways, contingency fees are better for clients than other fee arrangements. Contingency fees are often used in many different types of cases, such as car accidents, medical malpractice or personal injuries.

The victim often does not anticipate the need to pay for a lawyer and may not have funds in reserve to pay legal fees. Additionally, these cases often come at a time when it is already financially difficult for clients who may be missing work and incurring expensive medical costs while trying to recover.

With contingency fee arrangements, the victim does not have to pay upfront fees, and the lawyer can get to work on the case right away.

Another benefit of contingency fee agreements is that the client never has to pay legal fees if the case is not successful. He or she can pursue the case without worrying about suffering a financial burden.

If a case turns out to be quickly settled or is otherwise resolved in a quick manner, the client may feel that the lawyer has not worked on the case long enough to justify the contingency fee percentage that they had agreed on. One way that some lawyers solve this dilemma is to charge a smaller percentage if the case is resolved without litigation (going to court) than if the case did go to court.

Contact a Lawyer for Help Today

If you have a legal problem and are interested in our contingency fee arrangements, contact Greg Monforton & Partners for assistance. Our personal injury lawyers have extensive experience in handling personal injury claims, and we have helped our clients obtain millions of dollars in compensation.

We can discuss your legal options during a free consultation and explain your rights to you. If we decide to take your case, we will not charge any lawyer fees unless your claim is successful, so there is absolutely no risk to you.

Call (866) 320-4770 or fill out our Free Case Evaluation form so we can review your claim.