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What’s a Contingent Fee in a Pennsylvania or New Jersey Personal Injury Case?

The concept of a contingent fee in a Pennsylvania or New Jersey personal injury case is a little complex. It basically allows an average person to hire a lawyer without having to pay a retainer or any fees upfront. This type of fee arrangement only applies in personal injury cases, like work accidents, auto injuries or medical malpractice. It also applies in crime victim injury cases like those involving an assault, sexual assault or shooting. Some attorneys might be willing to accept a contingent fee in other cases like collection matters or other financial recovery cases.

Here’s an example to show how the contingent fee arrangement works in a Pennsylvania injury lawsuit. A person files a personal injury case for a work accident on a construction site. The case ultimately settles for $100,000. The contingent fee percentage is 40%. The attorney gets paid $40,000.

In a New Jersey personal injury lawsuit, contingent fees are capped by statute, in the following way: 33% on the first $750,000, 30% on the next $750,000 and so on from there.

Reimbursement for Costs

Using the example above, the lawyer would get reimbursed for costs associated with the case including filing fees, court fees, records costs, expert fees, etc. These get subtracted from the net recovery, after the lawyer’s fee. The client then gets whatever is left over.

The costs associated with a personal injury lawsuit in Pennsylvania or New Jersey vary. In a typical personal injury case, the costs range between $2,500 to $25,000 and more, depending on whether there is a trial and the complexity of the case.

Some cases are more costly to pursue than others based on things like complexity of the injuries. A simple two car auto accident case would cost less to pursue than a multiple car accident involving fatalities.

Some cases are naturally more costly, including medical malpractice and defective product accidents. That’s because they require one or more expert reports. In these types of cases, the lawyer will have to consult with an expert, and the fees often exceed $5,000, and that’s per expert and doesn’t include trial testimony costs. A single expert can cost over $10,000 for trial testimony alone.

Range for Contingent Fees

The contingent fee is usually a percentage and can range anywhere between 25% to 40%. These percentages may seem high to some. But there’s a reason. The lawyer assumes all of the risk. If the case is not successful, the client owes the lawyer nothing. So, a lawyer may pay $10,000 out of his own pocket for initial costs and consultation with an expert. The case may be lost because of some complex legal issue. The client owes the lawyer nothing. Because the lawyer assumes 100% of the risk, the contingent fee must be high enough to justify the risk.

While the vast majority of contingent fee agreements operate this way, it is important to note that contract/agreements vary. So of course, it’s important to read the contract before signing it.

Pennsylvania & New Jersey Personal Injury Law Firm

Attorneys at Laffey, Bucci & Kent are top rated personal injury lawyers, per Super Lawyers magazine. Combined, our lawyers have over 50 years of experience and have recovered nearly $200 million for their clients. The firm is located in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York and also handles matters across the country (via pro hac vice or special court admission). Contact our lawyers for a free consultation at (866) 641-0806 or toll free at Click To Call.

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