What this means is that there is no attorney fee unless you win. This is important because many people injured as a result of someone else’s negligence do not have the upfront capital necessary to file a case, pay for a lawyer, hire expert witnesses and do the investigation that is critical to proving their losses in court. In a sense, a contingency fee arrangement opens the courthouse doors to those who otherwise would have no other means. Payments are made based on a percentage of the total awarded either through settlements or jury verdicts.
These percentages are typically fixed and they may vary depending on the complexity of the case and the length of time it will take to obtain a resolution. While these agreements are beneficial to both plaintiffs and their attorneys, it’s important important for both parties to be on the same page about them. That’s what the case of Chalfant v. Guardianship of Flannigan illustrates.