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What is a Contingency Fee Agreement?

April 25, 2021

After being injured in a motor vehicle accident or slip-and-fall accident in Ottawa or across Ontario, you may require legal assistance to recover your losses and get your life back on track.  Likewise, if your long term disability benefits are denied, you may need a lawyer to help you dispute the refusal.  Many people don’t have the financial resources to pay for a lawyer on an hourly basis.  In these types of situations, a Contingency Fee Retainer Agreement may be available to you.

What is a Contingency Fee Retainer Agreement?

If you are hiring your lawyer on a contingency basis, you will need to sign a Contingency Fee Retainer Agreement.  In such an agreement, you do not need to pay any legal fees upfront.  Rather, you only pay legal fees if you win your case or get a negotiated settlement.  These agreements increase access to justice by allowing people to hire counsel, regardless of their financial situation.

Such fees are calculated as a percentage of whatever amount you ultimately recover as damages in the lawsuit or settlement.  The percentage charged is chosen in advance and is dependent on the particular case.  At SG Injury Law, we consider the following factors when setting the contingency fee percentage:

  • How much time we think we will have to spend on your case;
  • The risk that you might not win your case; and
  • How much money we think you might get as a settlement or award, among others.

If you lose your case, you do not pay any legal fees to your lawyer for the time that spent working on your case.  However, you may have to pay for other legal expenses.  For example, you may need to pay for disbursements, being expenses that we incurred on your behalf to advance your case. These may include: court fees, costs of obtaining your records, postage, etc.

If you lose your case, you may also need to pay for the successful party’s legal costs.  Having a contingency agreement does not protect you from having to pay these costs.  At SG Injury Law, we have mitigated against these risks by offering adverse cost insurance to our clients.  By choosing to opt-in to this insurance, your interests will be protected in the event that you lose your claim.  The insurance will cover both your disbursements and any cost awards that you may be responsible for.

How will I be paid if I win or settle my case?

Settlement or a Judgment for damages is paid to your lawyer and held in trust.  Your lawyer then deducts the relevant legal fees, disbursements, and taxes.  The remaining amount is paid to you.   You will be provided an account statement, showing how these amounts have been calculated and what was deducted for fees, disbursements and applicable taxes.

What changes are being made in Ontario in 2021?

Starting July 1, 2021, the Law Society of Ontario is mandating that all lawyers use the same standard form Contingency Fee Retainer Agreement.  While the fee structure will vary from firm to firm and even from case to case, the agreements themselves will be otherwise identically worded.

Having a standard form agreement will make it easier for you to understand the financial implications of the contract and how fees are going to be calculated.  Further, it may also make it easier for you to compare between law firms.  However, it is important to remember that there are numerous other considerations to consider when choosing a lawyer, other than the contingency fees being charged.  Considering qualifications, experience, and fit are equally as important considerations.  You need a lawyer that you are comfortable with and can trust in order to maximize your recovery and facilitate what may be a stressful process.

If you have been injured or require assistance with your long term disability dispute in Ottawa, or anywhere across Eastern Ontario, please contact one of the personal injury lawyers at SG Injury Law today.  We will be pleased to discuss our contingency fee agreements and how our services may be of assistance to you.  You can reach us:

By phone: 613-518-2416
Email: info@sginjurylaw.ca
Or fill out our Case Form



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