For more than a decade I've been proud and honored to extend a reduced attorney fee program to Maryland residents that have been injured through the negligence of another. I've extended this program to hundreds of Marylanders who have been injured in car accidents, falls, and other mishaps where allegations of negligence have been made. The program has saved thousands and thousands of dollars in attorney’s fees for our clients. Most attorneys who handle personal injury cases on what is known as a contingent attorney fee basis. Contingent means, generally, that something must occur before an agreed-upon condition comes into play. In this context, another word for contingent might be conditional. In a contingency fee arrangement, there must be a financial recovery of compensation made on behalf of the injured person in order for there to be any attorney’s fee due or owing. In a contingency fee arrangement, if there is no financial recovery, the client owes the attorney no fee. This is sometimes expressed as a “no-cost unless we win” of arrangement. Under this type of agreement, if there is an award of compensation for the injured person, either by way of settlement or verdict after trial, a percentage of that award is applied on account of attorney’s fees.
There can be a variety of uncommon reasons why there is no recovery on a case. The injured person might decide not to pursue the action, for any number of factors:
- They have recovered, relatively unscathed, and do not wish to litigate the case.
- The costs of a litigation outweigh the potential recovery, so economically, litigation makes little sense, or
- There is a finding of contributory negligence at trial
In Maryland, a common contingency fee arrangement calls for the attorney to retain 1/3 of any recovery that is secured prior to the commencement of litigation, and 40% of any recovery that is secured after a lawsuit is filed.
Under my reduced attorney fee program, the percentages that are applied to the award to determine the attorneys are lower than those generally and more typically found in the community.
Under our arrangement, attorneys fees are limited to 30% of any pre-suit recovery By “pre-suit” it is meant any recovery by the way of an amicable pre-suit settlement, after thorough and exhaustive negotiations with the claims adjuster, but occurring before a lawsuit is filed. If we have to litigate the case by filing a lawsuit, engaging in litigation, and/or trying a case the contingency fee percentage is 35% as opposed to 40% under the common arrangement frequently in this area.
A contingency fee arrangement is of course not the only basis upon which an injured person can secure the services of experienced counsel in a personal injury matter. You should always discuss and explore alternative methods of payment services. I have certainly found over the years, however, that in many instances an individual
- who has been injured in an accident through no fault of their own
- who is missing work or unable to earn the income they once did
- who has mounting medical bills that cannot be met
simply lacks the financial resources to pay an attorney a large retainer, a flat fee, or hourly rates of several hundred dollars per hour. It is in these circumstances that the contingency fee arrangement is put to its most effective use. The injured individual does not have to worry about incurring upfront legal costs. The attorney, who has agreed to work for free until the case is won, also assumes the risk that it will not be won. This allows the injured person who might not have the financial means to hire counsel, to obtain counsel of their choosing without facing another crushing financial situation, at a time when they can least afford that burden.
-This Article was updated by Eric Kirk on 1/5/21.