Let’s say you’ve been injured in a Boston car accident, a Dedham slip and fall accident, or a Braintree construction-site accident. You are suffering and you need a lawyer to seek damages for what you believe is negligence on the part of someone who caused you serious injuries. Here’s a little secret that the average person who has never been in this situation doesn’t know:
You can hire a Massachusetts accident lawyer to represent you and pay no upfront fees to that law firm. It will cost you nothing, up front. In fact, you won’t pay ANY legal fees to the Massachusetts personal injury law firm that you hire unless that firm or lawyer wins your case or obtains money for you, to compensate you for your damages. That’s because almost every Massachusetts personal injury attorney is paid on a contingent-fee basis. What this type of fee means, is that if your injury lawyer does not produce a successful outcome for your case by making sure that you are awarded financial damages for your injury, you will not owe him or her any money in professional legal fees. But if the Massachusetts injury lawyer that represents you does achieve a successful outcome, and you are awarded financial damages for your Massachusetts injury, then at the conclusion of the case, the attorney’s firm will be paid a percentage of the gross amount of the award or settlement paid to you.
The standard legal fee that a Massachusetts personal injury lawyer earns in a contingent fee case is one-third (33.3%) of the total settlement or verdict on your behalf. In some categories of high-risk cases, such as products liability or medical negligence/medical malpractice,) the contingent fee can be as much as forty percent (40%,) but that is due to the very expensive nature of these cases, the typically long time it akes to litigate them, and the high risk involved. (For example, medical malpractice cases can be extremely difficult to win, and the attorney representing the plaintiff in such a case bears the risk that he or she will spend an enormous amount of time and money on such a case, and have a jury find against the plaintiff.) In a contingent fee agreement, the attorney will very frequently also agree to advance the costs and expenses of the litigation, which can be considerable. When the case is over, the costs and expenses that have been advanced by the attorney are also dedcuted out of the final award or settlement paid on your behalf.
All these facts are clearly explained in all contingent fee agreements that the Law Offices of William D. Kickham uses, in our 20-years of representing injury victims in Massachusetts. No matter what law firm a client hires for injury litigation, these facts should be spelled out in clear, understandable language. I have not known a Massachusetts personal injury lawyer who does not adhere to these fee agreements, which are approved by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.
Because the injury lawyer representing you is paid out of the total proceeds paid on your behalf, in effect, it is the defendant who really pays your attorney’s fee, since the legal fee comes out of the total award or financial settlement paid by the defendant on your behalf. This true whether the case is a Massachusetts car accident case, a Massachusetts wrongful death case, Massachusetts nursing home abuse & neglect case, a Massachusetts dog bite case, or a Massachusetts liquor liability case.
But remember, if the lawyer who represents you is not successful, he or she will not receive any legal fees. So, you can see that when a Massachusetts personal injury attorney agrees to accept a case on behalf of an injured plaintiff, that lawyer is doing a great deal for that client. Such an attorney:
* Receives no advanced legal fees (up-front)
* Is only paid upon the successful conclusion of a case * Usually agrees to advance (or “front”) the expenses and costs of the litigatiion * Bears all the risk if the case is not won or monies are not received on behald of the client
Hopefully, this illustrates how hard personal injury attorneys work for their clients, and how much risk they assume when they do so. But it is the contingent fee system that enables the “average American” the ability to take on l;arge corporations and insurance companies. The contingent fee system provides “the keys to the courthouse” for Americans who could never afford to seek justice if they had to pay hourly fees to plaintiffs’ lawyers.
This point was made very well in the film “Erin Brockovich“, when actress Julia Roberts, playing the title role, explained this to the injured families in California who were initially skeptical of hiring injury attorney Ed Masry.