This is a common question asked by many potential clients after their first car accident or other injury claim. Many people know they’ve been hurt and need to hire a lawyer, but they don’t know if they can afford one.
The good news is that most personal injury lawyers work on what is called a contingency fee. A contingency fee means that the client doesn’t get paid unless you get paid – either from a settlement, judgment, or award. The attorney’s fee is a percentage of the total settlement.
How Much is a Contingency Fee?
The amount of the contingency fee is determined by what you and your attorney agree upon at the outset of your case. The typical fee amount in most personal injury claims is 1/3, or 33.3%. However, the amount of the claim can change based on the complexity of the case. For example, some attorneys having a fee agreement that changes based on whether the case was settled before having to file a lawsuit, during the discovery phase, or if the case goes to trial.
What is the highest contingency fee percentage a lawyer can charge?
Lawyers in Massachusetts are bound to follow the Rules of Professional Conduct. Rule 1.5 states that “a lawyer shall not enter into an agreement for, charge, or collect an illegal or clearly excessive fee…” The Rule goes on to list what should be considered when determine the amount of the fee. As such, while a 33.3% contingency fee is the norm in Massachusetts, a fee above 40% would be very suspect.
Additionally, Massachusetts State Law determines how much can be charge in certain types of claims. For example, MGL c. 231 s. 60I specifically states how much an attorney can charge in medical negligence cases.
If you have additional questions, or need to talk to a personal injury lawyer, please call 978-852-0914.