Contingency fee agreements are agreements that an attorney has with his or her client regarding the payment of the attorney fees. It is not based on the usual hourly rate of the attorney. Rather, the attorney is paid if and when the client recovers on the claim. California limits the amount attorneys can collect pursuant to a contingent fee arrangement in a medical malpractice case. This limit applies regardless of how the recovery is made (i.e., settlement, arbitration, or judgment). If the contingent fee arrangement is based on an award of periodic payments, the court will place a total value on the payments based on the projected life expectancy of the claimant, and then calculate the contingent fee percentages. The payment is based on the following schedule:
- 40 % of the first $50,000,
- 331/3% of the second $50,000,
- 25 % of the third $500,000,
- 15% of any amount that exceeds $600,000.
Some attorneys provide for a different percentage if the case is settled early or if the case goes to trial. Generally, even under contingency fee arrangements, the client is ultimately responsible for out of pocket expenses such as filing fees, copying costs, deposition and expert costs, et cetera. For more information on contingency fees, please consult an attorney in your area.
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