HomePersonal InjuryWhat is a Contingency Fee?

What is a Contingency Fee?

One of the most common questions injury victims ask when considering taking legal action to recover compensation is, “Do I need an attorney?”In quick succession, the next question is, “What will an attorney cost me?” or “How do I pay an attorney?”

Personal injury attorneys understand the dilemma an injured person has when pursuing a claim for injuries due to negligence. The common person does not have the funds to pay an attorney by the hour, especially when the attorney fees and expenses may be significant when pursuing a personal injury case.

A simple review of the top trial attorneys in League City and throughout Texas, you will notice a term repeated over and over in regard to the fee arrangement with a personal injury attorney: contingency fee basis. The standard arrangement with a personal injury attorney is a contingency fee. This fee enables individuals and parties to seek justice and afford excellent legal support no matter their economic standing or the size and wealth of the potential defendant.

What is a contingency fee?

A contingency fee is used in personal injury lawsuits. Under a contingency fee agreement, the attorney agrees to represent a client without requiring any upfront payment or retainer. The attorney pays all the expenses and obtains a fee only if the client is successful. If the case is settled or results in a favorable jury verdict, the attorney will receive his fee and reimbursement of the expenses from the settlement or jury verdict.

The percentage that an attorney may charge as a contingency fee will vary depending on the type and complexity of the case. A standard car wreck may be handled on a 33 1/3 percent contingency fee. More complex cases, such as 18-wheeler accidents, refinery explosions, industrial accidents, and offshore injuries may be pursued on a 40% contingency fee.

What’s the reason for a contingency fee?

Contingency fees are intended to make legal representation more accessible to people who might not otherwise be able to afford it. Contingency fees allow a person, however economically situated, to pursue damages from a negligent party regardless of the financial disparity between the two parties. Personal injury cases are expensive to pursue, particularly if expert witnesses and healthcare providers are involved. A standard orthopedic surgeon deposition may exceed $10,000.00 in cost once the expert fee, court reporter, and videographer are paid.A contingency fee allows a client who would otherwise not be able to afford to pursue a case out of pocket the opportunity to seek a financial recovery for negligent actions of an individual, insurance company, or corporation.

Pursuing a personal injury case requires an attorney to spend considerable time and money. Therefore, a personal injury attorney will be selective on the cases he/she accepts. A personal injury attorney has “skin in the game,” which is a great motivating factor.

What are the advantages of contingency fees?

Absent a contingency fee, many injured people would not have an opportunity to seek damages from the negligent party. The numerous advantages of a contingency fee are as follows:

  • Access to justice – The contingency fee allows clients of any financial standing to have access to legal representation. This can be particularly important in cases where the client has suffered an injury or significant financial loss and faces mounting medical bills and other expenses associated with the accident or incident.
  • No upfront costs – With a contingency fee, clients do not need to pay any out-of-pocket costs or retainers. This greatly helps those who do not have the funds to pay for legal services upfront and would otherwise not be able to retain an attorney.
  • Risk-sharing and incentive for success – The attorney takes on considerable risk with each case they accept. If the case is unsuccessful, they do not receive a fee or reimbursement of expenses, regardless of the amount of time and resources they have invested. With a personal stake in the outcome of the case, they have further incentive to work as hard as possible toward a positive result—beyond devotion to client service. Injury attorneys working on contingency fees also tend to be more selective with the cases they take on, meaning that they won’t waste a potential client’s time if they don’t think their case is viable.

Secure legal representation from a League City attorney you can trust

The contingency fee gives all plaintiffs access to quality legal services. At Burwell Nebout Trial attorneys, we are careful to review all the details of our fee structure with each potential client and operate with only your best interests in mind. To learn more about our comprehensive legal services, call (281) 645-5000, book a free consultation today, or contact our law firm online.

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Client Reviews


“I am a survivor of the March 23, 2005, BP explosion. Knowing my life had just been changed in an instant and not knowing what was to come was extremely unsettling. So when the time came to find legal representation, I chose Burwell Nebout personal injury attorneys from League City, Texas. Knowing they are from the Galveston County area made this an easy choice. Russ and Jimmy assured me they would do all things possible to help me and my family get through this most difficult time. Once again, I’d like to thank these men and their staff for their professional knowledge and guidance throughout those tough times. I know without a doubt I made the right choice.”

David Laymance
Santa Fe, Texas


“My company has faced disputes that require the litigation process to achieve resolution. I chose Russ and Jimmy to represent me not only for their ability to guide us through the process in a cost-efficient manner with the goal of resolution, but also with the comfort of knowing they have the skills and expertise to try the case.”

Will Watt
Friendswood, Texas


“Thank you for the excellent work performed by you and your staff in helping our company each step of the way in our pursuit of seeking reimbursement from BP due to our losses from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The presentation of the facts as well as the unknowns with each turn of the roller coaster has been greatly appreciated. I cannot thank you enough for the work you put into this nor credit you enough for the polish and professionalism in the way you did it.”

Doug Vingoe
Houston, Texas

Case Results

Automobile Accident

$19.2 million

Two clients killed as a result of a special defect in the shoulder of the roadway. A state court jury trial resulted in a $19.2 million verdict.

Premises Liability

$10 million

Children that attended school on a former toxic dump site made claims for exposure injuries. $10 million settlement.

Liberty County Record Verdict

Record-setting verdict

Two high school seniors were on their way home on a stretch of road that had been the subject of repeated complaints to the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT) about the poor condition of the shoulder. When the students entered a curve, the poor condition of the shoulder resulted in a crash that killed one and severely brain-damaged the other. A trial against the Texas Attorney General’s office resulted in the discovery of altered records, a spoliation instruction, and a record-setting jury verdict for Liberty County.

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