How Are Legal Fees Charged In Maryland Accident And Injury Cases?
Generally, lawyers charge fees one of these 3 ways . . .
- hourly rate
- fixed fee
- contingent, or percentage, fee.
Traditionally, in accident, injury and malpractice cases — the types of cases that we concentrate on — legal fees have been handled on a contingent basis.
A contingent fee means that there is no legal fee unless a condition — a contingency — is met. In this case, the condition is a successful result to the case, a recovery of money damages for your injuries and losses.
If there is no success — no recovery — there are no legal fees. If there is a recovery, the legal fees are an agreed percentage of the amount that is recovered, payable at the end, when the case is resolved.
The effect of contingent legal fees is that any client with a strong case can afford to hire a lawyer. In fact, the client can afford to hire the best lawyer that s/he can find since the percentages charged tend to be similar.
In other words, you can hire a lawyer with barely any experience and training wheels still on his briefcase . . . or you can hire a lawyer with over 25 years of experience, many past successes and standard-setting client relations . . . all for the same fee, or at least a similar one.
Here’s what one judge said about contingent fees . . .
The contingent fee, though much maligned and misunderstood, has been termed “the poor man’s key to the courthouse.” An automobile company may decide that it values profits over people and manufacture a car with an inexpensive but hazardous design. That car then blows up, leaving the driver nothing more than charred flesh and his grieving family numb with shock and facing possible financial ruin. Could that poor family afford the per hour rate of the high-priced, Wall Street legal talent which the automobile company will employ to defend any suit they might bring? The answer is searingly obvious. A contingent fee agreement will enable that family to file suit and receive the compensation which they deserve.
Any person whose heart stirs with the barest twinge of compassion must praise such a just result.
Surely, large corporations and insurance companies will always be able to afford teams of high priced attorneys. Pity the poor injured plaintiff who must finance such a contest from his own resources. Judge Cirillo, Romano v. Lubin, 530 A.2d. 487 (Pa. Super. 1987).
This quote explains why large corporations and insurance companies are working to eliminate or limit contingent legal fees.
The Santa Maria Law Center Legal Services Agreement
The Legal Services Agreement that we propose is written in plain English and answers these questions . . .
- What exactly is the case in which we represent you?
- What are our duties to you?
- Do we offer any guarantees?
- What are your obligations to us?
- What percentage of the recovery will the contingent legal fee be?
- Who pays the out-of-pocket expenses incurred in the case?
- Can we associate with other lawyers on your case?
- What happens if we have a conflict of interest?
- Can you terminate the Agreement?
Before signing our agreement, be sure that all of your questions about its meaning and effect have been answered to your satisfaction.
To talk about any of this further, contact us.