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Contingency Fees at Pettit & Cowherd Law Firm

The Risk-Free Way to Pursue a Personal Injury Claim

Attorney fees can come in the form of flat fees, retainers, deposits, and contingent fees. The contingent attorney fee is by far the most common type of fee arrangement for personal injury and workers’ compensation cases. Read on to learn more about contingent fees and how a settlement number is the first step in determining what you actually receive after a case.

If you have any questions about contingent fees, please schedule a free consultation with our team by calling (417) 222-6640.

What Is a Contingency Fee?

A contingent fee is an agreement where the client pays for the lawyer’s services at the end of the representation. Virtually all personal injury and workers’ compensation attorneys operate on the contingent fee basis. This means that no matter which attorney you choose, you should not have to pay anything out of pocket to get the compensation you deserve. “No fee until you win” is a common slogan for these attorneys, but make no mistake – ALL personal injury and workers’ compensation attorneys will offer the same deal.

The lawyer’s fees are taken out of the amount awarded to the plaintiff, whether by settlement or jury verdict. Contingent attorney fees are generally allowed by Missouri Supreme Court Rule 4-1.5(c). This is a special type of fee that allows people to get compensation for what they rightfully deserve without forcing the injured person or family to pay out of their own pocket before receiving their compensation allowed by law.

How Much Are Personal Injury Lawyer Fees?

In personal injury cases (cases not under workers’ compensation rules) there is no cap on the amount of the attorney's fees. However, rule 4-1.5 requires that the attorney fee be reasonable. Reasonableness is determined by the amount of time and attention the attorney spends on the case. Therefore, the limit of reasonableness depends on each case.

Contingency fees are usually ⅓ (or 33.3333%) of the plaintiff’s total recovery in car accident, slip and fall, and general injury cases. Other types of cases, like medical malpractice and product liability, are more complicated and require more attention. These cases could result in up to 50% in attorney fees.

In Missouri workers’ compensation cases, attorneys usually charge contingent fees of 25%. There is no Missouri law that limits the amount of the attorney’s fee in workers’ compensation cases, but the attorney fee must be stated when settling a case and it must be approved by the administrative law judge.

Can a Lawyer’s Fee Vary Depending on My Case’s Outcome?

Yes. Sometimes a lawyer’s contingency fee agreement varies, depending on if your case is settled before filing suit or after. A fee agreement like this could allow for a 25% fee if settled before filing suit, for 33.333% if settled after filing suit, and for 40% if the case is tried.

Is It Worth Hiring an Attorney if I Have to Pay a Contingency Fee?

In most cases, yes. Hiring a lawyer on a contingent fee basis increases the total amount an injured person or family will receive in the end. This is because the insurance company expects you not to understand the law. They also know that the average injured person or family member will likely accept less than the full value of their case. Hiring an attorney can help you get your full, deserved amount during settlement.

What About Costs?

An important part of understanding a contingent fee agreement is understanding case expenses (commonly referred to as “costs”). There are two types of costs: Litigation expenses and taxable costs.

Litigation expenses generally refer to the costs incurred while the case is being investigated and prosecuted. These include fees for obtaining records (i.e. crash reports and medical records), expert fees, and other fees incurred by the lawyer in order to prepare the case for trial. Taxable costs include filing fees, deposition costs, and service fees.

One of the largest costs in a personal injury case is the cost of an expert. Experts are commonly retained by both plaintiffs and defendants in injury cases. Experts are hired in order to give their opinion of why something happened based on their specialized or scientific knowledge. Because the experts have specialized knowledge, they are in high demand and therefore charge high fees. Pettit & Cowherd Law Firm has seen experts charge fees up to $50,000 to give their opinion in a case – appearance to testify at trial is extra.

How Is the Fee Calculated?

When a case is settled or a jury awards a plaintiff compensation, then the calculation can begin. Usually, the attorney fee is calculated on the whole award. From there, costs and other bills are deducted. For an example, we will go through a hypothetical settlement.

Let’s assume John was in a car crash, hired an attorney, and reached a settlement amount of $50,000. John hired a lawyer for a ⅓ contingency attorney fee and that the lawyer incurred $2,500 of costs while working on the case. Let’s also assume that John didn’t have health insurance and has outstanding medical bills of $2,000.

The following is how the settlement memorandum would read:

  • Net amount to John: $20,833.33
  • Settlement amount: $50,000
  • Attorney fee: $16,666.67
  • Costs advanced by attorney: $2,500
  • Medical bills: $2,000

When the settlement money comes in, the fee is paid to the attorney, the costs are also repaid to the attorney, the medical bills are then paid out of the client’s net amount. In the end, John received a check for $20,833.33. Not too bad.

If you have any questions about attorney or contingency fees, feel free to contact our attorneys at Pettit & Cowherd Law Firm. Call (417) 222-6640 today.

Client Testimonials

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  • “I am extremely satisfied after 12 years of representation.”

    Casey C.
  • “They handled the process to take stress off my family and to reach a fair settlement.”

    Billy R.
  • “James was kind, knowledgeable and kept us informed during our whole process.”

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  • “Always very timely in responding and very knowledgeable in what they do!”

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Millions Recovered for Our Clients

  • $640,000 Settlement Brain Injury After Semi-Truck Accident
    Our firm represented an 8 year old boy who suffered a brain injury as a direct result of accident involving a semi-truck at the intersection of Highway 39 and I-44. His past medical bills were $122,754. Client did have pre-accident diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Funds from the settlement were deposited into a Missouri Special Needs Trust to provide for future treatment.
  • $300,000 Settlement Car Accident
    My client was a passenger in a van that was driven by an un-owned driver. When the van topped a hill on a curve, it ran off the road and hit a tree. The driver was charged with a DWI. My client received fracture of his femur and hand. He required surgery to place a steel rod in his leg. His medical bills were $45,391. He did not have insurance and did not qualify for governmental assistance. Our office was able to obtain bill reductions from 10 – 40% on outstanding bills. Maximum insurance coverage was obtained from the owner of the van, driver of the car and from an insurance policy where the driver resided.
  • $6,500,000 Settlement Car Accident
    Our client was an employee traveling on Highway 69 in Oklahoma. The first defendant made a U-turn and collided with my client. Soon after, a semi-truck struck my client’s stranded vehicle. My client is paralyzed from the waist down. His past medical bills were $560,171 with future medical expenses of $3-5 million.
  • $92,000 Settlement Car Accident
    Client was injured in an intersection collision in Mt. Vernon, Missouri. He sustained a shoulder injury that required surgery. The case was settled at mediation.
  • $100,000 Settlement Car Accident
    The defendant driver was driving too fast under the influence of alcohol with an “undetermined amount of prescription medication”.
  • $45,838 Settlement Car Accident
    My client was a passenger in a car traveling 95 mph in Stone County. At a curve, the driver ran off the road and overturned. He was treated for a concussion, bleeding in the brain and a fractured lumbar vertebrae.
  • $76,000 Settlement Car Accident
    My client was a passenger in a car involved in a 4 car chain reaction accident on Highway 39 South of Aurora. She was airlifted from the scene where she received treatment for fractures of her spine, clavicle, scapula, arm and leg. She also has a head injury with bleeding into the brain. Her medical bills were over $40,000 paid by Medicaid. Upon settlement, Medicaid was reimbursed approximately $1,600. The defendant driver was uninsured. The maximum limits were obtained from the uninsured motorist policy of the owner of the car of which she was a passenger. The maximum limits were obtained from two uninsured motorist insurance policies from the homeowner where she resided.
  • $300,000 Settlement Car Accident
    My client was a passenger in a car on Highway 39 traveling South. The accident occurred when the North bound company vehicle driven by the defendant employee turned in front of my client. She suffered a fractured hip and required surgery. Her medical expenses were $65,262. Medicaid was reimbursed $3,461 for expenses they paid. This case was settled at mediation.
  • $100,000 Settlement Car Accident Involving Surgery
    Client was injured by a driver who fell asleep at the wheel. She sustained shoulder injuries that required surgery. The case settled for policy limits within 35 days after the demand letter was mailed.
  • $70,000 Settlement Car Accident Requiring Surgery
    My client was 64 year old driving on 60 Highway on the West side of Springfield. The collision occurred when the defendant pulled out in front of my client. As a result of the impact, he suffered neck strain, broken ribs, sacroilitis and a torn rotator cuff which required surgery. His medical expenses were $29,163. Medicare was reimbursed $1,617.49. This was settled in mediation.

Why Hire Pettit & Cowherd Law Firm?

Your Recovery is Too Important Not To
  1. All attorneys have trial experience & are prepared to go to trial.
  2. Over 100 years of combined injury law experience.
  3. Lawyers work closely with each client on a case-by-case basis.
  4. Direct access to the same attorney from start to finish.
  5. Lawyers & paralegals approach each case with compassion.
  6. Long track record of successful verdicts & settlements.
  7. Spanish language option available for clients who need it.
  8. Committed to serving the local community in & out of court.
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