Contingency fees are those paid to a lawyer acting on behalf of a client in a case, especially a suit for damages. The lawyer's fee becomes payable only if the case is successful. Contingency fees are usually based on a percentage of the damages recovered.
Contingency fee agreements must be in writing. Contingency fees are not permitted in family law cases involving child custody or access. They are permitted in other types of family law cases, but must be approved by the court.
In a claim for personal injury or wrongful death arising out of a motor vehicle accident, the maximum contingency fee allowed is one-third of the amount recovered. In all other cases involving personal injury or wrongful death, the maximum allowed is 40% of the amount recovered.
There are no maximum limits for contingency fees in cases not involving personal injury or wrongful death. Lawyers often vary their contingency fee rates depending on the amount of the claim, the degree of risk involved and the stage at which the case is resolved.
In most contingency fee agreements, the client is required to pay all disbursements such as medical reports, court filing fees and photocopying charges, regardless of the outcome of the case.