Most personal injury lawyers work on the basis of a Contingency Agreement. In Alberta, the Contingency Agreement must be in writing. A Contingency Agreement is an agreement to see that the lawyer is paid only in event of a successful conclusion of the motor vehicle or slip and fall claim. What this means is that the lawyer does not get paid unless and until they obtain a settlement or judgment on the client’s behalf. A typical way of wording this is :
The Client retains the Lawyers to work to judgment and collection thereof, or to settle, the Client’s claim for damages or monetary compensation against any parties who may be liable for damages, and to bring any lawsuit or take any necessary or appropriate step to collect such damages or monetary compensation in respect of an accident on (date of accident).
Generally speaking, personal injury lawyers will not take on cases unless they believe they will be successful – the reason for this is that they do not want to spend their time working for nothing! You should not be asked to pay for anything during the course of your file (except in very rare circumstances). It is the lawyer’s responsibility to pay for all medical reports, treatment charts and documentation to support your claim. The lawyer can recover these costs (often referred to as ‘disbursements’) out of any settlement or judgment.