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Hiring a Lawyer: Avoid the pitfalls.
- Do percentage fees vary?
- Percentage or contingency fee agreements vary between law firms, as does the quality of service and the time lawyers spend on a case.
Some lawyers charge a flat percentage fee, no matter when the case is resolved. Others charge fees that increase, depending upon whether the case is settled:
before an examination for discovery (pre-court questioning under oath),
after an examination for discovery and less than a certain number of days before trial, and
if the case proceeds to trial, or if it is settled within a certain number of days before the trial.
The amount of work does escalate with each step of the case, so there is some logic in the latter approach, but most injured people with significant and longer term injuries do not settle their case until after an examination for discovery.
Another method of charging fees under a contingency fee agreement is a 'stepped approach' based on the amount the injured person recovers. For example, a certain percentage might be charged on the first $100,000, a lower amount on the next $200,000, and an even lower amount on the next $500,000, etc.
Fee rates vary depending upon the severity of the client's injury and the amount of risk involved in the case.
Lawyers are not permitted to charge more than 33. 33% of damages recovered in ICBC claims unless a Supreme Court judge pre-approves the fee agreement. A judge may approve a higher fee if a case is particularly risky.