Legal Question in Personal Injury in California
I am wondering if my lawyer is ripping me off? He is taking 40% of my settlement off the top and then deducting all medical fees and other cost involved, at this point he is making more money out of this case than I will. I am shocked and am wondering if he can do this to me? Should I sign this paperwork agreeing to this?
3 Answers from Attorneys
It depends on your retainer agreement. But what your lawyer is taking is surely within the standard in the industry. Litigation is very expensive, and when an attorney takes on the sole risk of the case, like a contingency fee case, he/she should be rewarded. Many times lawyers end up actually losing money on contingency fee cases.
If you would have lost your case, or recovered no money, would you feel responsible to pay the lawyer for his time? Probably not.
With regard to the medical expenses, there are likely medical liens that need to be paid from the settlement proceeds. If the lawyer fails to pay them, he/she could be held personally liable for payment.
1. I agree with both prior responses.
2. Out of a settlement, first comes attorney fees, then costs, then all medical bills/liens,
and usually the remainder is the client's net share for pain and suffering and lost wages.
3. Your attorney's fees have no relationship to what you get. There is no correlation between the fee and your net.
4. Your attorney must provide you with a full accounting of all money of your settlement.
Good luck and thanks for your question.
If your retainer agreement says the attorney gets 40 percent of the gross proceeds, then his share is correct. If doctors have liens on the case, then the liens come out of your portion of the settlement. If there are no liens, then their payment would be your responsibility. Usually, the attorney will attempt to negotiate with the doctors to reduce their bills so you can get more money.
Often, the retainer agreement also shows that you agreed to deduct costs from your portion of the settlement. If you have doubts, your attorney should provide you with an accounting of all disbursements which you should dispute if you disagree.