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Ches Crosbie Barristers

What Does It Mean To Say You Take Cases On "Contingency"?

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What does it mean when you hear a lawyer advertise that he “takes cases on contingency” or offers “no fee, if no recovery”?


One question that runs through people’s minds when they are thinking about hiring a Newfoundland and Labrador injury lawyer is “how will I pay for it all?” The answer for most personal injury  cases is the “contingent fee” system.


This means that rather than pay a flat or hourly rate to the lawyer, the client agrees to pay the lawyer a percentage of any recovery in the case. Usually that fee ranges from 20 to 45% of the recovery in the case, depending on all the circumstances.


That doesn’t mean, however, that you won’t have to pay anything to the lawyer as the case moves along. In every case, there are costs. Someone must pay for the medical records, reports, trial exhibits and meetings with doctors. These are the costs of the case, or disbursements. In most cases, the client pays for the costs or disbursements as they are incurred by the lawyer. 


In our office, we handle disbursements on a case-by-case basis. Some of our catastrophically injured clients and many others are in no position to advance disbursements and we understand this. We will advance disbursements in deserving cases within our ability to do so.


What does the contingent fee system mean for the client?


First, it means that most lawyers are going to assess the risks of accepting the case carefully. No lawyer in his right mind is going to take on a frivolous case, work hundreds of hours on it, for ZERO payment.


Second, the contingent fee is often the key to the courthouse. Because there is risk sharing, you can have a very experienced lawyer represent you and not have to worry about the bill for legal fees.

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