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Ochoa & Calderon

Do I Have to Pay the Attorney Up Front?

Retainer Agreement with dollars and pen

Hiring the right lawyer is necessary to protect your rights in a variety of circumstances. If you’ve been injured by a negligent party, hurt on the job, or if you’ve had your workplace rights violated by an employer, you deserve compensation. You need a good lawyer on your side to make sure you get the justice and the compensation you are owed. Law firms vary with how much they charge and how those fees are paid. Some lawyers require clients to pay for certain services up front, while others will take their fees on the back end. Below, our dedicated Riverside injury and employment dispute lawyers explain how attorney fees generally work.

Ask About Fees in Your Initial Consultation With an Attorney

Different lawyers have different fee structures. Some charge by the hour, some by the task (e.g., filing a motion), and some charge a flat fee for certain types of actions. Often, there are standard fee structures for specific types of cases and other legal proceedings. A real estate attorney, for example, might charge one fee for generating a residential contract and a different fee for generating a commercial contract.

One of the most important questions you can ask in your initial consultation with a lawyer is for them to lay out their fee structure. If you meet with several firms before choosing one to handle your case, you should ask each about their fees and compare.

What is a Retainer?

Many attorneys require clients to give them what is known as a “retainer.” A retainer is essentially a down payment on legal fees. You pay your attorney a certain amount up front, based on an estimate of either the total expected cost of the matter or a given portion of the expected fees (such as the first few months). Your attorney would then take their fees from the retainer at the conclusion of the matter, after completing certain tasks, or on agreed-upon intervals based on the number of hours worked.

If the matter concludes and there is additional money left over in the retainer, the attorney must give that money back to you. If the retainer is all used up and the matter is still ongoing, the attorney will ask for additional funds.

What Does “Contingency Fee” Mean?

In personal injury and workers’ compensation cases, many attorneys work on “contingency.” That means that your attorney fees come out of your eventual award, whether you obtain a settlement or win at trial. In either situation, you would typically not owe any fees up front. Your attorney should lay out the fee structure in your initial consultation, including what percentage of the award goes to your attorney and what other costs will be covered on top of their percentage (for example, expert witness fees).

At Ochoa & Calderón, You Only Pay After You Win

At Ochoa & Calderón, we take personal injury, workers’ compensation, and employment dispute matters on contingency. That means that you pay nothing up front–no retainer, no hidden fees, no litigation costs. After we secure you a favorable settlement or an award at trial, we take our fees and costs from a portion of the total damages won. If we do not get you any compensation, then you don’t owe us a dime. We only get paid if you win, so our number one priority is getting you the compensation you deserve.

Fight for the Compensation You Are Owed

For help recovering compensation after a personal injury, a workplace accident, or an employee rights dispute in Southern California, call Ochoa & Calderón to discuss your case with a seasoned and experienced California injury litigation attorney. Call 951-901-4444 in Riverside or 844-401-0750 toll-free throughout Southern California.

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