One of the most common questions I hear in my Pennsylvania Car Accident and Personal Injury law practice is What is a Contingent Fee and how does it work?

Traditional Legal Fees

Most of the time when you hire a lawyer to do legal work, the lawyer will charge by the hour.  In Chester County Pennsylvania, depending on the experience and skill of the lawyer, hourly rates can range from around $150 per hour for the least experienced lawyers to around $450 per hour for the most experience lawyers.  Lawyers also charge clients for any out-of-pocket costs in the case including court filing fees, expert witness costs, travel costs or any other expenses incurred in the case.

Law firms often require large retainer fees to be paid at the beginning of the representation.  Once the retainer is exhausted, they either require it to be replenished with another large lump sum payment, or they will bill the client monthly and expect the bills to be paid promptly in order to continue with the representation.

Contingent Fees for Car Accident and Personal Injury Cases

Luckily, lawyers offer another type of fee arrangement for Pennsylvania Car Accident and Personal Injury cases called a Contingent Fee Agreement.  With a Contigent Fee, the lawyer does not charge an hourly rate or require an up front retainer payment.  Instead, the fee is Contingent on the lawyer winning money for the client in a settlment from the insurance company or collecting a verdict after trial.  If the case does not end with a settlement or verdict, the lawyer receives no fee.

If the case is successful, then the lawyer receives a percentage of the client’s compensation, usually between 25% and 40% depending on the type and complexity of the case, plus reimbursement of any out-of-pocket expenses.

The Benefits of a Contingent Fee to the Client

The Contigent Fee is beneficial to the client for many reasons.  First and foremost, it allows the client to hire a lawyer with no upfront cost.  Second, there is no risk to the client.  If the case goes south and no compensation is awarded, then the client still owes no fee.  Instead, it is the lawyer who takes the risk of not being paid because the fee is Contingent on winning the case.  Finally, the Contingent Fee arrangement provides an incentive to the lawyer to produce the highest settlement or verdict possible for the client, since his or her compensation is based upon the results of the case.

Tim Rayne is a Car Accident and Personal Injury Lawyer with the Pennsylvania firm MacElree Harvey, Ltd.  For over 20 years, Tim has been helping injured victims of accidents understand their legal rights and receive fair compensation from insurance companies.  For a Free Review of your case, contact Tim at 610 840 0124 or or check out his website at  


Copyright © 2019 MacElree Harvey, Ltd. All rights reserved. | Disclaimer | Sitemap