What is a Contingency Fee Agreement With a Personal Injury Attorney?

“I can’t afford a lawyer.”

“Don’t you know how much a lawyer charges?”

“Who has the money for a lawyer these days?”

If you’ve known anyone who’s been involved in a legal matter (or you’ve been in one yourself), those statements might sound familiar. But when it comes to personal injury cases in Montana, many people still don’t fully understand how inexpensive it is to hire an attorney.

Yes, it’s true. Stereotypically, people think lawyers cost too much or that they can navigate the system without a lawyer to save money. 

But here’s the truth:

Nearly all injury lawyers accept personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis.


So what is a contingency fee?

A contingency fee is really simple. If your lawyer doesn’t win you any money, you don’t owe them anything. 

You have heard this line in lawyer advertising, right? 

While it’s true, it doesn’t really fill the client in on how it actually works. It’s true because a contingency fee agreement is a risk/reward arrangement that both the attorney and the injured client accept and agree to. As the name implies, the lawyer’s fee is contingent upon how much monetary compensation they recover from the responsible insurance company. 

Thus, the final amount is “contingent” upon the final settlement. If that number is $0 then the lawyer gets a percentage of $0, which is $0. 

Resolving an injury case for $0 is extremely rare, so don’t worry about that! 


What’s the bottom line?

The industry standard for a contingency fee agreement with an experienced injury attorney is 33.3% or 1/3 of a bodily injury settlement. In layman’s terms, whatever monetary compensation the attorney can get the client from an insurance company is split:

  • 1/3 to the attorney
  • 2/3 to the client

Regardless of the amount, the split remains the same. Your lawyer is incentivized to obtain the best possible monetary compensation for you. At the end of the claim, the more compensation your lawyer can arrange for you, the larger the amount for both you and your attorney. 

This arrangement puts both the lawyer and the client with equal interests in obtaining the most compensation possible. This is why an experienced attorney can usually obtain a better compensation package than an attorney without experience in this specific area of law.


Even on a contingency basis, a great lawyer is an investment with a high rate of return

You might think that by negotiating with the insurance company on your own you’ll be able to “save” that 33% fee. But it doesn’t really work like that.

Nearly 100% of the time, hiring an attorney will increase your settlement by more than their fee. 

You actually come out ahead even after you pay your lawyer! There’s usually very little risk in hiring an attorney to help you with an injury claim. The attorney communicates with the insurance company and the client’s job is to simply recover from their injuries. 


What if I don’t hire an attorney?

When you try to fight the insurance company on your own without an attorney, you have nobody on your side to:

  1. Stand up for your rights – Insurance company lawyers will try their best to limit the value of your claim. Your lawyer makes sure you get a fair settlement and aren’t taken advantage of.
  2. Make sure everyone plays by the rules – Insurance companies aren’t charities. They want you to accept a lowball offer and might play dirty pool to do so. Your lawyer helps prevent that.
  3. Show that you mean business – Insurance companies have the power when a lawyer isn’t involved. Your lawyer restores this balance and levels the playing field. You’ll be taken seriously.
  4. Allow you to focus on recovery – When you’re injured after an accident, your focus should be on getting healthy, not fighting your insurance company. Let your lawyer do what they’re best at — fighting for you!


Talk to the Judnich Law Office today!

Have questions? Looking for a Montana personal injury attorney you can trust? 

Contact the Judnich Law Office today for a free consultation to discuss your case.