Contingency Fee

Business, Legal & Accounting Glossary

Definition: Contingency Fee

What is the dictionary definition of Contingency Fee?

Dictionary Definition

A method of paying a lawyer for legal representation by which, instead of an hourly or per job fee, the lawyer receives a percentage of the money her client obtains after settling or winning the case. Often contingency fee agreements — which are most commonly used in personal injury cases — award the successful lawyer between 20% and 50% of the amount recovered. Lawyers representing defendants charged with crimes may not charge contingency fees. In most states, contingency fee agreements must be in writing.

Full Definition of Contingency Fee

A contingency fee is a payment method used to hire a lawyer by paying the lawyer a percentage of the compensation awarded after the claimant wins the personal injury case. The contingency fee allows claimants in a personal injury case to avoid paying a retainer fee to a lawyer to hire them to help them with their case.

Using the contingency system of payment for legal disputes has drawbacks. For instance, for some types of cases, it will be very difficult to find legal assistance if a lawyer does not think they can win your case. Additionally, contingency fees can be very high for some types of injury cases which means if you are successful you could end up paying a high percentage of your compensation award to the attorneys. Consider also if you have hired a lawyer under a contingency fee agreement you may still be charged for certain expenses. All expenses should be discussed and outlined in a contract prior to hiring a lawyer.

Cite Term

To help you cite our definitions in your bibliography, here is the proper citation layout for the three major formatting styles, with all of the relevant information filled in.

Page URL
Modern Language Association (MLA):
Contingency Fee. Payroll & Accounting Heaven Ltd. September 24, 2021
Chicago Manual of Style (CMS):
Contingency Fee. Payroll & Accounting Heaven Ltd. (accessed: September 24, 2021).
American Psychological Association (APA):
Contingency Fee. Retrieved September 24, 2021, from website:

Definition Sources

Definitions for Contingency Fee are sourced/syndicated and enhanced from:

  • A Dictionary of Economics (Oxford Quick Reference)
  • Oxford Dictionary Of Accounting
  • Oxford Dictionary Of Business & Management

This glossary post was last updated: 22nd April, 2020 | 1 Views.