my neice was in an accident and has traumatic brain injury and is now in a nursing home. this accident was not her fault. My wife has become her personal gaurdian and has signed a contract with an attorney to seek damages for her. this contract very clearly states that the attorney will not get paid unless there is a settlement. it also makes it very clear that our neice is liable for payment and we have no responsibility for payment. we are considering changing attorneys because we believe it will be better for our neice. we need to know two things. 1. will the current attorney be paid for his work to date when a settlement is reached if he submits a bill? 2. Is there any way that this attorney could ask us to pay for any of his work if we change attorneys? the contract is very clear that he only gets paid if there is a settlement and that only our neice is responsible for paying
1 Answer from Attorneys
Re: personal injury
If you have already contacted another attorney, then you should probably seek guidance from him or her about this matter. Also, the contract itself is largely controlling on this issue. Many such fee agreements, however, do not specifically address this issue. If the lawyer has not reached a settlement (or a tentative settlement), then the general rule is that the attorney will be entitled to the fair market value of the services he has performed for you. This would theoretically be based on the hours he has invested in the case. It sounds as if the damages at issue are significant, and therefore you are probably well-advised to meet with your second attorney (or another attorney) in person with the documents and more information to discuss this issue.