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Cost for lawyer fees in Michigan contingency fee basis 1/3 of the lawsuit won on wrongful death case

Macomb, MI |

my husband passed away last month due to other driver ran red light and t boned him went to lawyer he said open estate in your name and file lawsuit and get other party insurance said he is not going to charge for opening estate in my name. he said after we won the case he is going to subtract the amount he spend like filing, expert witness etc

example: filing fee, expert fees, testimony comes to 20000$. if i won 50000$ first he is going to take 20000 and another 1/3 of the 30000 so total 30000 for the lawyer and 20000 for me. so is this the law in Michigan.

can the lawyer make up 20000$ i used this expert and used that expert so that i spend more money. is filing paper work not part of the 1/3 salary?

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Attorney answers 4


You basically have it right. I don't know any attorney who would incur $20000 in costs on a $50000 case, but I guess it is possible. Get other opinions before hiring your attorney. There are a lot of us out there who want to get the most for our clients while spending the least in costs. I am one of those attorneys.

My answer to you question does not constitute legal advice. Only an in person or telephone consultation will result in an attorney/client relationship. Call me at (313)402-0853 to discuss your matter further.


Your outline is generally accurate, excepting that the time preparing the paperwork, forms and pleadings is generally covered by the 1/3 contingency, while the out of pocket costs for the court filing fees etc. are part of the "costs" which are subtracted from the gross recovery and paid back in the calculation of the net recovery, which is what the contingency fee is calculated upon. The costs are your costs which are to be paid by you or advanced to you by the lawyer).
I would be surprised if the costs in a case with a $50,000 gross recovery would get to $20,000 but, hopefully, your attorney is being conservative in his estimates so that you will not be disappointed or surprised later.
Generally lawyers will not make up or intentionally increase costs, as they are out of pocket expenses where the attorney makes no money, and every $1.00 in costs decreases the lawyer's eventual fee by $0.33.
If you do not trust your attorney, find one you do.
In cases such as you describe, with clear liability and a death, the limiting factor on the recovery is most commonly the collectability of the negligent party.
You are welcome to call..

To the PROSPECTIVE client, please call myself or another attorney for your choice with more detaiils and an appointment. My PRELIMINARY answer to your question(s) is for general purposes and based upon what little information you have conveyed. It is based on such limited information that the general answer should never be relied as a reason for your action or inaction. My response does NOT establish an attorney-client relationship and such may only be established by mutual agreement, and the signing of a written retainer agreement, which will generally require payment for our services, as this is what we do for a living and, just like you, we must get paid for our work.. .


Your description sounds accurate and consistent with the Michigan court rules and ethical rules. If you trust the attorney, you should not be very concerned about the costs. The attorney can only charge you for actual costs incurred, and every dollar he or she spends reduces the fee by 33 cents. If, as you say, liability is clear, there would be no need for an expert, unless there is a very large insurance policy or another deep pocket to pursue.

You may have misunderstood what he said about "filing." There are fees for filing a lawsuit and for certain other things (such as filing a motion), but those fees would likely be in the hundreds, not thousands of dollars. "Filing paper work" is not a cost; that is covered as part of the 1/3 fee.

You need to find an attorney who you trust. I, like each of the other attorneys responding to this post, would be happy to help you find someone, if you are not comfortable with the attorney you first met with.

David H. Fink; Fink + Associates Law; (248)971-2500

Fink + Associates Law is available to assist you in finding an attorney to represent your interests. There is no charge for initial consultations.


I agree with the other attorneys and simply want to say that I highly recommend Attorney Klisz and Attorney Brennan (sorry but I do not know the other attorney who answered). Give these lawyers a call and they will definitely do a great job for you. So sorry for your loss and I wish you luck!

The comments listed here do not create an attorney-client relationship. The comments are for informational purposes only and are not to be considered legal advice. This attorney is only licensed in Michigan and does not give legal advice in any other state. All comments are to be considered conversational information and you should not rely on these comments as legal advice or in place of retaining an attorney of our own. The comments here are based solely on what you have provided and therefore are general in nature and with more specific facts or details a different answer or outcome could result. The legal system is not a perfect science and this attorney does not guarantee any outcome.