Contingency Fees in a Georgia Personal Injury Case
Most Georgia personal injury attorneys get paid for our work on a contingency fee. This means payment of any fee for work done is dependent on the attorney getting some recovery for the client. What that fee is is a percentage of the recovery, usually 33%-45%.
It is important to understand that the contingency fee does not cover what are called “costs advanced” or just “costs” – money spent by the attorney related to the case. Examples of some costs in our cases are medical records, depositions, and expert witnesses. The more complex the case, the more costs there may be. Costs are typically recovered in addition to the contingency fee.
In Georgia, an attorney may not ethically charge you a contingency fee without a written agreement. Contingency fees are not allowed in criminal or domestic relations cases.
I like working on a contingency fee basis for several reasons.
- I enjoy the challenge of having my compensation tied to how good of a job I do for my client
- I never have to tell a client that he has to come up with more money if he wants me to continue to work on his case
- I put whatever time is needed into a case to obtain a good result
The Georgia Bar requires that upon settlement/judgment of a case involving a contingency fee the attorney give the client a written statement of how the attorney is paid. That must include, among other things:
- the recovery
- how much is being paid to the client
- how that amount was calculated
- the amount paid to the attorney as a fee
If you hire an attorney on a contingency fee, make sure you read or have read to you the written contract. Ask questions about any part of it you do not understand. Make sure you ask the attorney to show you an example of what their settlement statement at the end of a case looks like (our contract has an example right in it). Don’t sign the agreement unless you are comfortable with it. Ask for a copy of the contract once it is signed by you and the attorney. These are the least you should do. Here are some other good tips about what do before signing any contract.
Contingency fees work well for clients and attorneys in personal injury cases. But, as with any business decision, you should be an informed consumer before entering into an agreement. If you have any questions about a contingency contract or any other issue involving a personal injury case, you can contact us for a free consultation by completing the “Need Help” form or calling the phone number on the right of this page.