How do ‘no win, no fee’ lawyers work?

Hiring a lawyer can be a huge financial risk for some people, so a ‘no win, no fee’ arrangement can sound tempting. But what’s behind it?

You’ve probably come across the term ‘no win, no fee lawyer’ before. And now that you might need one, it sounds pretty tempting, doesn’t it But what does ‘no win, no fee’ actually mean? And can you really expect to pay nothing should your case not go your way?

What is a ‘no win, no fee’ lawyer?

Generally speaking, a ‘no win, no fee’ lawyer promises not to charge you any fees should they lose your case.  Many lawyers will also cover the running costs and will not charge you for these if the case is unsuccessful. This means there’s much less financial risk involved for you when getting a case underway.

So, what’s the catch with ‘no win, no fee’?

Usually, there’s no catch. However, with some lawyers, there might be. So before you sign on the dotted line, it’s worth taking a good look at the agreement you’re about to enter. Sometimes, depending on the lawyer, there can be hidden fees, which may turn into a hefty bill once your case is done and dusted, so it pays to be careful.

For example, some ‘no win, no fee’ lawyers may not charge you any professional fees, meaning any time they spent working on your case, but they could still send you an invoice for any additional costs incurred during your case. These are called disbursements and could include costs for:

  • Expert medical reports
  • Costs of obtaining important documents, such as medical records or reports
  • Travel expenses
  • Court fees
  • Barrister fees
  • Other expert reports

Some ‘no win, no fee’ lawyers may also ask you to pay some of these costs upfront. If not, there might still be a possibility of them charging you interest on those costs at the end of your case. This could mean that they’ve engaged a third entity to fund your case in the interim.

RELATED: How does personal injury law work?

For workers compensation claims in NSW, most personal injury lawyers will look to apply to  the Independent Review Office (IRO) on your behalf. Depending on your case, this will usually cover all your legal fees. However, if you’re pursuing legal action for a work injury you sustained, you would be able to take advantage of a ‘no win, no fee’ arrangement for claims not covered by IRO. This includes claims for negligence.

How do I find the right ‘no win, no fee’ lawyer for me?

As with anything in law and life, it pays to go the extra mile and do a little (or a lot of) research – and don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions. Including if:

  • They will take on the upfront costs of any disbursements
  • You can expect them to charge interest on those disbursements
  • You will be charged for any disbursements if they don’t win your case.

You should also consider a lawyer who specialises in the type of claim you’re looking to make to give yourself the best chances of winning your case.

Hiring legal representation is no easy feat, so worrying about lawyer fees shouldn’t be another thing to add to your plate. Our experts can help you find out if you have a case

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