Run of the mill personal injury/negligence case in federal court. Plaintiff has defeated Defendant's summary judgment motion, completed depositions, and has also funded his medical experts (and has received credible medical expert opinions supporting his injury claims). Defendants offer's of judgment have been in six figure range, but rejected by Plaintiff. Trial is 3 weeks away if it does not settle beforehand. Pro Se Plaintiff wants to have attorney represent him if it does go to trial. What would be a fair contingency rate for a retained trial attorney since Plaintiff has done most of the case Pro Se and has received viable proposed settlement offers beforehand? Should the percentage only apply to the portion of any judgment received that is greater than the prior settlement offers?
You will have a very hard time locating an attorney to come into your case less than 3 weeks before trial. That being said, there is no way to answer what is a "fair" contingency fee. Lawyers set their own fees and you would have to speak to attorneys personally and negotiate with them as part of the hiring process. Your fee arrangements will be reduced to writing if and when agreed upon.
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In my humble opinion, a standard 1/3.
Picking up a case three weeks before trial is a huge disruption in an attorney's practice. In order to be ready and properly prepared, the attorney who takes that case will be working night and day for the next month, because chances are he or she was already busy. Also keep in mind that although you've done the preliminary work, most cases settle before trial and yours apparently will not. If you are hunting for a bargain you will not find a high quality trial lawyer. "Fair" in this situation might be a matter of opinion; that's mine
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You are free to negotiate same and since you already have a sizable offer have significant leverage in having a nice settlement offer you can offer to proceed on an hourly retainer or on a contingency basis with different amounts if trial is necessitated versus simply the preparation for trial.
Whatever you are willing to pay and whatever the lawyer is willing to accept. Considering normal PI cases are typically 1/3 contingency fee, and most attorneys bump it up to 40% for trial (and often 50% for appeals and post-trial motions), I would expect for a no-money up front straight contingency it would be very reasonable to have a 50% fee.
It is also possible that the fee could be limited, and based upon a % only on money ABOVE THE WRITTEN OFFER prior to the lawyer's involvement.
You can negotiate anything you want. Good luck, but definitely don't think you can try it yourself. Consider the offer. Why are they offering you money? Is your case that great? Did you find something that is going to nail them? Are there "interesting" injuries? Think about the angle of WHY a pro se party just got offered money and yet why he is online asking for advice. Either your case is great and worth far more than the offer, or you are missing something.
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You've gotten a lot of good answers and I would add only how I would figure it myself. First I would read the depositions and expert opinions you developed. Then I would consider the cost of trial (expenses). Then I would figure the number of hours it would take, times my hourly rate, thine a multiplier for the contingency, and then I would compare that number to what I think the fee could be. That number is the possible midrange verdict times the possibility of success times the contingent percentage. Your ability to advance expenses would also be relevant. I doubt there could be c credit for the entire amount of the prior offer, it would be too hard for the numbers to work.
So you see there is no way for me (or anyone who thinks like me) to answer your question without looking at the evidence. Bear in mind that I do not do negligence cases and my thinking may be atypical. But one way or the other, that is the type of analysis one would have to use.
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The question I would be asking is how to find a lawyer that is willing to take on a case at the 11th hour. Good lawyers are busy and like to prepare their own cases.
I am not your lawyer unless we enter into an engagement agreement in writing. This is only general information. It is NOT legal advice, and it may not work for your specific situation. I strongly encourage you to consult with a local lawyer to get legal advice and help with your specific situation at your earliest convenience. I am licensed to practice law in Arizona.
I agree with the other answers, and will add only that you can expect that you probably won't find an attorney who will take a case that close to trial (if they will take a case that far along anyway). You should expect that any attorney who will take it will ask for a continuance, and you should hope that that happens. You really don't want an attorney to be re-inventing the wheel in such a short time; trials require extensive preparation even for the attorney who has been conducting the case from the beginning.
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