When a personal injury lawyer promises a “no fee guarantee,” the lawyer is not offering you anything special. Almost every personal injury lawyer in the United States handles injury cases on a contingent fee basis.
A contingent fee is an arrangement where the client pays a fee to the plaintiff lawyer only if the lawyer handles the case successfully. Stated another way, the plaintiff lawyer’s fee is contingent upon recovering money for his client (i.e., the plaintiff). The American Bar Association defines a contingent fee as follows:
A client pays a contingent fee to a lawyer only if the lawyer handles a case successfully. Lawyers and clients use this arrangement only in cases where money is being claimed—most often in cases involving personal injury or workers’ compensation. In a contingent fee arrangement, the lawyer agrees to accept a fixed percentage of the recovery, which is the amount finally paid to the client. If you win the case, the lawyer’s fee comes out of the money awarded to you. If you lose, neither you nor the lawyer will get any money, but you will not be required to pay your attorney for the work done on the case.
Don’t be lured in by the promise of a “no fee guarantee.” The fact is, all plaintiff lawyers provide a “no fee guarantee.”