How Are Contingency Lawyers Paid?

By Adam J. Langino, Esq.


After an injury, hiring a lawyer can be a daunting task. For many, it is their first time retaining a lawyer, and they may have questions they are afraid to ask. This article explains how contingency lawyers are typically paid.

What is a contingency lawyer?

A contingency lawyer differs from many other lawyers because they do not charge an hourly fee. While some lawyers charge upwards of a thousand dollars an hour for their legal services, contingency lawyers operate on a different business model.

A contingency lawyer only is paid if a recovery is made. The lawyer's payment is contingent on the outcome of the claim. To put it another way, contingency lawyers front all of their time, money, and effort. If they successfully get the other side to pay money to settle your claim, they take a percentage of that recovery before any money is paid to you.

How do I know if my lawyer is charging me too much?

States have different rules regulating how much a contingency lawyer can charge their clients. Some states, like North Carolina, allow the lawyer to charge what they believe is reasonable. Other states, like Florida, have standard fees a contingency lawyer must charge absent court approval. Depending on the claim, contingency fees typically run between thirty-three and forty percent.

Do I ever pay out of my pocket?

Many contingency lawyers do not require their clients to pay out of pocket for their representation. Typically, there are costs associated with any claim. For example, your lawyer may have to hire an expert, take depositions, attend court hearings, or otherwise spend money to prosecute your claim correctly. Many contingency lawyers front the money for these costs for their clients. However, if they can recover money for your injuries, contingency lawyers take their fees and then take back their expenses. The contingency lawyer should be able to show their client a ledger of all the costs for which they seek reimbursement.

What happens if I do not make a recovery?

If you do not make a recovery, many contingency lawyers do not seek any reimbursement from their clients. This will be stated in your contingency fee contract with your lawyer.


I am sorry if you are reading this because you or someone your love was killed or catastrophically injured by the negligent acts of another. Over my career, I have handled many catastrophic injury and wrongful death claims. I am licensed to practice law in Florida and North Carolina and co-counsel claims in other states. If you would like to learn more about me or my practice, click here. If you want to request a free consultation, click here. As always, stay safe and stay well.

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