I hired a Tennessee personal injury lawyer to represent me in a car wreck. She said she was going to charge a one-third contingent fee and the fee agreement says just that. The case did not settle and she says she wants to charge forty percent of the recovery since she has to prepare for trial. Can she do that?
No, not unless the contingency fee agreement says that she can charge more in the event the case goes to trial. If the agreement is silent on this issue, she can charge you more than one-third only if you agree to revise the contract.
If the contract does give her the right to charge more if the case is tried but the higher amount is not specified she can only charge a reasonable fee. Whether forty percent is a reasonable fee depends on the circumstances.