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Watch Out for These Tricks in Attorney’s Fee Agreements

For the record, all personal injury lawyers are “no win, no fee” firms. Don’t be fooled by fancy advertising. This is nothing special. “No win, no fee” means that your lawyer is contingency fee-based – they do not get paid if you do not win. Almost all, if not all, personal injury firms charge this way. 

Second, please keep an eye out for lawyers who have lower fees if they settle your case within 60 to 90 days of signing up. Look for language like, “if we settle your case within the first 90 days, the fee is X.” Or “if your case settles within X days of signing this retainer, the fee is X.” Cases take an average of 8-12 months to settle, sometimes longer if you have to file a lawsuit or go to arbitration. Any law firm that has a lower fee for a settlement within 60 to 90 days of signing up is misleading you. The standard in the industry is 33.33% before a lawsuit or arbitration is filed (“Prelit”), and 40% after a lawsuit or arbitration is filed (“litigation”).

Some firms create a third tier of 45% charged when your case reaches 60 days before trial. 60 days before trial means your case has been active for at least 18 months and your attorney is entering the expert stage in litigation. This 45% tier is very different from a promise to settle your case within 60-90 days of the date of the incident. Your attorney is increasing your fee because the work is increasing. Any attorney who promises a lower fee if your case settles “quickly” is very likely to charge you more than the industry standard for the work performed. The only cases that settle within 60-90 days of sign up are catastrophic loss of life or limb cases. 

45% is fair and a common fee among trial law firms. Anything beyond 45% is too high, in our opinion. Castro & Company is also reasonable; it is our mantra to put People First. So if the circumstances merit a fee reduction, we consider it and will accommodate our client. It is up to you to choose the best firm for you that has your best interests in mind, in addition to their own.


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