You may have heard that most personal injury lawyers will take cases on a contingency fee basis. But what does that mean? A contingency fee is the amount of money a lawyer receives when a case is successfully settled or won. Contingency fee agreements allow people access to the justice system regardless of their ability to pay for a lawyer.

Contingency fee arrangements may seem too good to be true, but in a contingency fee case the lawyer pays all case-related expenses up front and takes on the risk that a case will be unsuccessful. Upon a successful resolution of the case, clients may have to reimburse the lawyer for these expenses. Case-related expenses can include filing fees, deposition expenses, and costs paid to expert witnesses. For example, if a lawyer wins a settlement of $100,000 in a case where the contingency fee agreement calls for a 30% fee to the lawyer, the lawyer would receive $30,000. If the lawyer incurred $15,000 in case-related expenses, that amount might be subtracted from the remaining $70,000 and the client would receive $55,000. If the case is unsuccessful, the lawyer is out the expenses and hours he or she put into the case while the client is out nothing.

In Maryland

In Maryland, contingency fee agreements must be in writing and signed by the client. The agreement should specifically spell out the percentage of the contingency, which expenses will be deducted from the recovery, and whether the expenses will be deducted before or after the contingent fee is calculated.


Contingency fee arrangements provide several advantages to clients. The arrangement provides an incentive for a lawyer only to take on cases that have a reasonable chance of success. If it were an hourly rate, a lawyer might take a case regardless of its merit and collect fees throughout the process. When a case is taken on a contingency basis, the lawyer’s and the client’s interests are closely aligned. Your lawyer has a huge incentive to win your case because if he or she doesn’t, there is no payment for the many hours spent working on the case. As a result, a lawyer will work hard for his or her client to resolve the case quickly and for the most money. A contingency fee arrangement gives the average injured person a fighting chance against large corporations and insurance companies.

Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney

If you’ve been injured in an accident, it’s important to contact a personal injury attorney sooner rather than later. The experienced attorneys at Alpert Schreyer, LLC, are here for a free consultation and to help you through the process. Contact us online or call us at 301-381-2655.