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Contingency Fee Agreements vs. Retainers/Hourly Fee Agreements

by Dominguez Law Firm, LLC

What are Contingency Fee Agreements?

Contingency Fee Agreements are agreements for legal representation where the attorney does not take a retainer or up-front fee from the client for the attorney’s legal services. Rather, the attorney and client, at the beginning of the case, agree on a percentage of the gross (potential) settlement at the end of the case. If there is a monetary settlement, judgment of the court or jury verdict, attorney fees are a percentage of the total amount recovered. The contingency fee percentage is determined at the beginning of the case, after your free consultation. The percentage is often variable due to the complexity, expense and risk of the case. Contingency fee agreements are often ideal as they align the attorney’s financial interests with the client’s financial interests. The more money the attorney is able to recover for the client, the more money the attorney makes.

Normally, in addition to attorney fees, any costs associated with the case must be paid from the settlement as well. Examples of related costs would be expert fees, ordering and copying medical records, postage and copies, deposition expenses, exhibits, trial expenses, etc. A contingency agreement is beneficial because people without the financial means to pay a retainer to hire an attorney or pay the costs themselves, get representation from an attorney without having to pay anything up-front.

Contingency fee agreements are used for auto collision, trucking accident, medical malpractice, products liability, and other personal injury cases and should always outline the percentage of attorney fees and that costs are not a part of those fees. If you are considering entering into a contingency agreement, be sure to investigate if there are statutory limits to the amount an attorney may charge in fees in the state you live in, and be sure you are comfortable with the terms of the agreement prior to signing the contingency fee agreement.

What are Retainer/Hourly Fee Agreements?

Regardless of the outcome of the client’s case, all services provided, any applicable gross receipts taxes, and costs associated with the case must be paid by the client. Retainer fees may or may not be refundable, depending on the terms of the contract. Retainer/Hourly Fee Agreements are generally used for family law, civil defense, business law and criminal defense cases. Some attorneys will charge a flat fee for criminal cases, with any costs associated with the case being paid in addition to the flat fee. Examples of costs would be expert witness fees, deposition costs, private investigator fees, transcription fees, and any other costs the attorney has incurred during their representation and preparation of your case.

Here at Dominguez Law Firm, LLC we work with our clients to align our interests and provide the best representation we can for your specific case. Call the New Mexico Injury Attorneys at Dominguez Law Firm, LLC for your free consultation.