In the United States, any private citizen that feels wronged by another has the right to file a civil lawsuit in order to recoup monetary damages against that person. The biggest problem facing potential plaintiffs is that difficult and complex cases will often bring hiring a lawyer out of the realm of possibility. Attorneys will usually clients charge by the hour, but require large retainer fees before they will get started on your case. Luckily, if your case is strong enough, an attorney will work, file and try the case on contingency.
What type of case do you want to file?
Many types of civil cases may be accepted by attorneys on a contingency basis. The most common cases include lawsuits for personal injury, debt collection and defective products. Some attorneys may also take cases involving employment law and wage issues. Unfortunately, criminal cases and other legal filings, such as divorce, wills and contracts, are never taken on contingency.
How strong is your case?
Not all lawsuits are created equally. Therefore, attorneys have to consider the likelihood that a civil case can be won before taking it on contingency. The strength of a case can be determined by finding a precedent or a former case with similar characteristics. Many lawyers are hard pressed to invest time, money and resources on a case without a reasonable assurance of repayment.
Is it worth the lawyer’s time and money?
Attorneys must consider the actual cost of filing and trying a lawsuit and compare those numbers to the likely monetary damages that can be recovered if the case is won. While settlements can be less expensive than going to trial, lawyers must investigate and write each case up as if it will go to trial. In addition, lawyers will employ the services of various ancillary professionals such as private investigators that require payment at the time services are rendered. Therefore, if the time and money required for a certain case outweighs the actual possible results, the case will not be worth it for the attorney’s office.
So you, or someone you know, may have a strong civil case against another party, but not have access to the money needed to hire a lawyer in the traditional way. The above tips can can help you decide whether it may be possible to hire a lawyer on contingency.