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Sample Retainer and Contingency Agreement for an Injury Case

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When you've found a law office you like to help you with a personal injury case, they will ask you to sign a contingency fee agreement. Most personal injury cases are taken on a contingency fee basis. This means that if you recover any money from the person who injured you, the attorney will receive a percentage of the total amount of that recovery as payment for their services. Below is a sample of how that agreement might look.

___________________ (Client's Name) requests and authorizes _______________________ ("Lawyer") to represent him/her in all matters arising out of the accident occurring on [DATE OF ACCIDENT], at [TIME] a.m./p.m., against [THE DEFENDANT(S)].

1. Lawyer agrees to exercise his/her best efforts and professional ability and will consult with Client on an ongoing basis regarding major decisions relating to this matter, including trial or settlement.

2. Client agrees to cooperate with Lawyer and assist Lawyer with preparing the case as Lawyer requests.

3. Client agrees not to do any act that impairs the value of the case.

4. Client agrees not to settle the case without Lawyer's participation and consent.

5. Client agrees not to speak to others or consult other lawyers about the case.

6. Client agrees to pay costs of investigation, out-of-pocket costs, and expenses [ON A MONTHLY BASIS]/[AS THEY ARE BILLED]/[BY REMITTING $_________ PER MONTH]/[OTHER ARRANGEMENT].

7. Client agrees to keep medical billings up to date.

8. Client agrees to pay Lawyer's fee for professional services as follows: ______ percent of any settlement or recovery, and _______ percent if the case goes to trial or is appealed. Further, if, at the time the case is settled or a judgment is paid, Client owes Lawyer for any expenses or other items, Lawyer may deduct that sum from the amount to be paid to Client. The percentage recovery will be calculated [BEFORE/AFTER] outstanding medical bills, expenses, and costs of suit are deducted.

9. If Client makes no recovery, Client owes Lawyer nothing for legal services but must pay expenses.

10. If Client decides to terminate the case after Lawyer has provided substantial legal services, Client must pay Lawyer a sum equal to the probable fee, to be determined by a panel of the American Arbitration Association. Lawyer will bear the cost of the arbitration.

11. Lawyer reserves the right to terminate this contract if at any time he/she concludes that the claim is without merit.

12. Client agrees that Lawyer cannot promise or guarantee a particular result.

13. This agreement represents the full agreement and understanding between the Client and Lawyer. No other agreement, written or oral, exists, and discussions between Client and Lawyer that are not set forth in this agreement are not part of this agreement.

14. Client acknowledges that Lawyer may currently represent or may in the future represent other clients in matters that are not substantially related to Client's representation. Client agrees that Lawyer may continue to represent or may undertake in the future to represent existing or new clients in any matter that is not substantially related to the Lawyer's work for Client even if the interests of such clients in those other matters are materially adverse to Client. Lawyer agrees that in the event Lawyer becomes aware of any conflict of interest that may require waiver from Client beyond the waiver granted in this paragraph, Lawyer will inform Client and will not undertake the potentially conflicting representation without Client's informed, written consent.

15. If Client and Lawyer agree to change any term in this agreement, the agreed to change must be in writing and signed by both parties.

I, ____________________, acknowledge that I have read this agreement fully, understand its terms, and agree to them. I received a copy of the agreement when I signed it.

Date: _________________



Date: _________________



Date: _________________

______________________________________Lawyer [NAME AND ADDRESS OF LAW FIRM]

What Are Legal Fees and Attorneys' Fees in Personal Injury Cases?

Legal fees, or attorneys' fees, are what you pay for legal work in a personal injury case. These fees can vary greatly depending on:

  • The intricacy of the case
  • The experience level and reputation of the lawyer
  • The duration of the case
  • The eventual outcome

The fees can be calculated in various ways, which are discussed in detail in the sections below.

How Does an Hourly Rate Fee Structure Work?

In some clients' cases, attorneys charge an hourly rate for their services. This is the fee per hour that the attorney will charge for any work they do related to your cause of action.

The hourly rates can vary not just from one attorney to another but also within the same law firm. For instance, paralegals or junior attorneys usually have lower hourly rates than senior attorneys or partners in the firm.

The total cost of an hourly rate fee arrangement depends on how many hours the attorney ends up working on a client's behalf, which is often difficult to predict at the outset.

What Are Contingency Fees?

Many personal injury lawyers operate on what is known as a contingency fee basis. This essentially means that their fee is contingent upon a successful outcome to your case, either by winning at trial or achieving a settlement. If the attorney does not secure a successful outcome, they don't receive their fee. But this does not exempt the client from certain other costs, like court filing fees, costs of obtaining medical records, expert witness fees, and other expenses necessary to prepare the case.

What Are Disbursements and Filing Fees in a Personal Injury Case?

Disbursements are expenses that the attorney incurs while working on the case. These can include fees for filing a lawsuit, fees for obtaining copies of medical records, fees for expert witnesses, and any other expenses necessary to the case. Filing fees are the costs associated with submitting court documents and forms. They are usually set by the court system and can vary depending on the court and the type of case.

What Is the Role of an Expert Witness in Personal Injury Cases?

Expert witnesses are critical in personal injury cases. These professionals provide specialized knowledge in a variety of fields, such as medical, engineering, or accident reconstruction. Their role is to help establish the cause and extent of an injury or to prove damages. The fees charged by expert witnesses can be substantial, particularly in complex cases. These experts are usually experienced professionals with years of experience in their respective fields. Their testimony can significantly strengthen a case. You're responsible for expert witness fees under your contingency fee agreement.

What Happens in Fee Disputes and How Are They Governed by Professional Conduct Rules?

Occasionally, disputes arise between clients and attorneys over the amount or nature of billed fees. In these situations, the issue can be taken to the local state bar or bar association (the governing body for attorneys in each state), which often provides mediation or arbitration services to help resolve such disputes. The Rules of Professional Conduct, established by the bar, offer guidelines on fee arrangements and dispute resolution. These rules aim to ensure that legal practices maintain ethical standards, including in their billing and fee practices.

What Are Liens in Personal Injury Cases?

A lien is a claim or right against the compensation amount received in a personal injury case. Medical providers, insurance companies, or other entities may have a lien on your personal injury settlement. This means they are entitled to be paid out of your settlement for services they rendered or payments they made on your behalf related to your injury. The presence of liens can significantly affect the net amount of a settlement or judgment that a client ultimately receives.

Scope of Services

The scope of services refers to the tasks that the attorney will perform on your behalf, pursuant to your fee agreement. This can include legal research, drafting documents, negotiating with the opposing party, and representing you in court.

Rules and Regulations by the State Bar and Bar Association

Each state has its own regulatory body that oversees the legal profession and enforces the rules and guidelines for legal practice within the jurisdiction, often including legal fees and professional conduct guidelines. This is often a state's bar association.

Membership in these professional organizations may be separate from being admitted to practice law in that state. Admission to the bar is generally mandatory to practice law, while membership in professional organizations like the bar association may be voluntary.

Conflict of Interest

In some situations, your lawyer might have a conflict of interest that prevents them from representing you. It's important to discuss this possibility upfront. Your lawyer has a duty to disclose any potential conflicts.

Different Fee Arrangements

Aside from contingency and hourly fee arrangements, there are other types of fee structures, such as a flat fee. This is where a fixed total fee is agreed upon for all services.

For example, an attorney might charge a flat fee for drafting a will or handling a straightforward bankruptcy case. This type of arrangement provides certainty for the client regarding the total cost of the legal service. It is most often used in client's cases where the amount of work required is predictable.

Get an Attorney's Services for Your Personal Injury Case

While signing a retainer agreement and contingency agreement can be a bit nerve-wracking, an experienced personal injury lawyer can help you get on the right track with your legal matter. Learn more about your case and your rights by reaching out to an attorney near you today for legal representation.

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