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Know the Law: Contingency Fee Lawyer Representation

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Tom Sinas explains how lawyers are compensated
Posted at 10:17 AM, Nov 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-08 13:14:00-05

When you’ve been seriously injured and need skilled legal representation, you might be wondering how much it costs to pursue a lawsuit. And while finding the right attorney for your potential case can feel overwhelming, it’s a vitally important decision and understanding how your lawyer will receive compensation and what that means for your potential final settlement or verdict is crucial. Grand Rapids personal injury attorney, Tom Sinas, breaks down the basics of contingent attorney fee representation this week.

Sinas explains most people don't have a huge stockpile of cash they set aside to pay a lawyer to work by the hour; most people never even think they'll be in a situation where they'll need a lawyer. So when the need arises, they're faced with the legal challenge in addition to the question of how they're going to pay ofr a lawyer.

When lawyers work for a contingency fee, the lawyer is not compensated for his or her time unless there is a successful outcome in the case. So if the lawyer wins the case they get paid, but if lawyers lose the case their client doesn't have to pay them. The most common cases where contingent fee representation is used is for cases involving personal injury, wrongful death, or auto no-fault benefits.

There are different ethics rules for law firms that vary from state-to-state, but in the state of Michigan, the court rule authorizes the contingency fee to not exceed one third of the net recovery. Net recovery includes the cost of the lawyers time plus outside costs the lawyer needs to spend in order to win the case. Those costs are subtracted from whatever the recovery is, then what is left under a contingency fee is divided between the lawyer and the client; 1/3 goes to the law firm, and 2/3 goes to the client.

So how much will a lawyer cost? While it's impossible to know how much to pay the lawyer, the rule of thumb is the more time the case takes, the more expensive it will be.

Before signing with a lawyer, make sure the contingency fee representation is in writing; make sure the fee is legally binding so the law firm can't cheat you out of money later. Also, the lawyer needs to tell a client when the lawyer is charging on an hourly basis. Be sure to know what the lawyer is charging before signing on with them.

Learn more by calling Sinas Dramis Law Firm at (616)-301-3333 or visit sinasdramis.com.

Know the Law is sponsored by Sinas Dramis Law Firm. Information is provided by Sinas Dramis Law Firm.