I am in a contingency with a personal injury lawyer and have heard mixed advice. He doesnt want to tell us how much he is suing for an also wants us to pay him his legal fee ontop of a percentage of what we win (1/3). Does this sound right?
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5 Answers from Attorneys
It sounds strange, but a contract with an attorney to represent you is not an indentured servant contract. If you feel uncomfortable with that deal, you should find another attorney.
It is not unusual for the percentage attorney fees to be calculated on the gross recovery; sometimes it is calculated on the net recovery after costs. The fee would be calcuated: Gross Recovery x % - costs = client's recovery.
You have the final word on the amount to settle for; it cannot be settled without your approval. As to what is asked for, these amounts may not bear a relation to the ultimate outcome. As we may ask for a pie in the sky amount, we often do not want a client to get an idea that that is what the case should settle for. Let us know if I can clarify further.
I agree with Joel.
You say the lawyer isn't telling you the amount, but it may just be that there is no amount to tell you. Personal injury complaints often don't ask for a specific amount of money, especially if they involve subjective matters like pain and suffering.
It is unusual for the lawyer to ask for a fee on top of his contingent share of the recovery. Are you sure that's what the contract says? It seems more likely that it calls for you to pay costs (meaning expenses for things *other than* the lawyer) on top of the lawyer's contingent fee. That's perfectly normal, but it's very different from what you wrote.
What you agreed to is in the contract. If you cant find you copy ask for one. It is not uncommon for the attorney to take a percentage of the gross with you being responsible for all out of pocket costs