Q. What payment options are available to me and can I get on a payment plan?
Answer. We strive to be accessible to everyone and we understand that not everyone can afford to pay for their legal services up front. We offer flat fees, hourly rates and, in some instances, contingency fees.
Our clients always have the option of hourly, or “Time Based” fees. This fee is determined by the amount of time involved on a matter such as so much per hour, day or week. Each lawyer at Contiguglia / Fazzone has a different hourly rate. In this instance, the client will place a retainer I with our offices which will be billed against at an hourly rate. The client pays only for the amount of time actually spent on a project. Once the retainer is depleted, the client will be responsible for replenishing the retainer to meet the hourly fees of the attorney. Simply put, the client will advance the fees owed. If there is money left over in the retainer at the end of the work to be completed, it is returned to the client. We never charge non-refundable retainers.
Flat fees or “Fixed” fees are available in some instances. “Fixed” means a fee that is based upon an agreed amount, regardless of the time or effort involved or the result obtained. If the client elects to pay a flat fee, a single fee will be charged regardless of the number of hours utilized on a case. The flat fee per case depends on the nature of the case and an estimate on the number of hours it might take to complete the case. Flat fees are efficient for the client because the client knows exactly what the cost of the legal services will be. The fee will be based on the complexity of the action. Criminal law and family law cases are good practice areas to utilize the flat fee. We also offer a flat fee for the various business law related services we provide.
Contingency fees are only available in personal injury and some litigation related matters. “Contingent” means a certain agreed percentage or amount that is payable only upon attaining a recovery, regardless of the time or effort involved. Typical contingency fees start from 33 1/3%. We don’t collect our fee unless you get a recovery on your case. Our offices will front the costs and be reimbursed from any recovery you get. In personal injury case we will make sure your medical bills are taken care of and any medical liens that have been filed will be satisfied. In some circumstances, we are able to help negotiate a reduction in these amounts to help maximize your recovery. However, this is never guaranteed.
Depending on the type of legal case involved, our clients have the right to choose the type of attorney fee arrangement.
Payment plans are available to our clients to help satisfy their attorney fee responsibilities. If you have a credit card or checking account we can work with you to effectuate a payment plan that best suits your financial ability.
Q. What type of expenses can I expect in my case?
Answer. In a typical legal action, there may be expenses (aside from any attorney fees) in pursuing your claim. Examples of such expenses are: fees payable to the court, the costs of serving process, fees charged by expert witnesses, fees of investigators, fees of court reporters to take and prepare transcripts of depositions or hearings, and expenses involved in preparing exhibits. The client should understand that an attorney is required to provide him / her with an estimate of such expenses before he / she enters into an attorney fee agreement, and that the attorney fee agreement should include a provision as to how and when such expenses will be paid.
For contingency fee cases, a typical fee agreement should tell the client whether a fee payable from the proceeds of the amount collected on the client’s behalf will be based on the “net” or “gross” recovery. “Net recovery” means the amount remaining after expenses and deductions. The estimated amount of expenses to handle your case will be set forth in the Contingent Fee Agreement.
Q. Am I entitled to collect my attorney fees if I win my case?
Answer. Except in criminal cases, the prevailing party in a lawsuit is always entitled to reimbursement of his / her costs maintained in pursuing or defending the lawsuit. However, the prevailing party is only entitled to reimbursement of attorney fees if the parties to the lawsuit entered into a contract which includes an attorney fees provision, or if a statute allows for it. For example, Copyright actions maintained under the United States Copyright Code allow for the reimbursement of attorney fees to the prevailing party. Another example, in domestic relations cases, the law allows attorney fees to be collected based on a disparity of income.
It is important to ask your attorney if attorney fees are collectible in your action.
Q. Is it possible I could be responsible for the opposing side’s attorney fees?
Answer. Except in criminal cases, the prevailing party in a lawsuit is always entitled to reimbursement of his / her costs maintained in pursuing or defending the lawsuit. So, if you lose a lawsuit, you can be held accountable for the other side’s costs. Equally so, if you are a party to an agreement that allows for attorney fees to the prevailing party, you can be responsible for paying the oppositions attorney fees. You can also be responsible for fees if you are found liable while defending an action under a state or federal statute which allows for the recovery of attorney fees.
In rare circumstances, if the court finds a party has raised a frivolous action or defense, the court can award attorney fees to the party having to defend against the claim. A frivolous action or defense is one that lacked substantial justification or that the action, or any part thereof, was interposed for delay or harassment. The court can also assess attorney fees if it finds that an attorney or party unnecessarily expanded the proceeding by other improper conduct, including, but not limited to, abuses of discovery procedures available under the rules of civil procedure or a designation by a defending party that lacked substantial justification. “Lacked substantial justification” means an action that is substantially frivolous, substantially groundless, or substantially vexatious.