I would first try talking to your attorney and find out his or her thoughts regarding your case. Specifically, you need to know what are the hurdles you face in proving liability, why is the attorney demanding what he/she is demanding. You need to understand the lawyer's thought process. Of course, if you are not satisfied after meeting with your lawyer, you can always switch attorneys.
Sagi Shaked is a Florida Bar Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney. To schedule a free consultation, call (877) 529-0080 or (305) 937-0191. I am licensed in Florida, therefore, my answers are based on general prinicpals of law or Florida law, which may not be applicable in your jurisdiction. Answers posted to Avvo are for general information only and do not create an attorney client relationship. Do not conclusively rely on any information posted online when deciding what to do about your case. Every case depends is different and fact dependent, and responses are limited to and is based on the information you posted. No attorney-client relationship shall be created through the use reading of this response on Avvo. You should never delay seeking legal advice, disregard legal advice, or commence or discontinue any legal action because of information in this response.
Your injuries may be worth more than $35k with perfect liability. But a fall on stairs is not always an easy case to prove liability. Your attorney presumably has a reason to be asking what he's asking. You should be talking to him.
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The person yo answer these questions is your counsel. Talk to him about your concerns and try to gain a full understanding of his thought process.
In no way am I offering you legal advice, and in no way has my comment created an attorney-client relationship. You are not to rely upon my note above in any way, but insted need to sit down with counsel and share all relevant facts before receiving fully-informed legal advice. If you want to be completely sure of your rights, you must sit down with an experienced criminal defense attorney to be fully aware of your rights.
I agree with my colleagues that you should discuss your concerns with your attorney. The ultimate decision on the amount of a settlement is yours, but he may have specific concerns about y case that he should explain to you.
I have one other concern, however; you say he's charging 30% PLUS $350/hr? Without knowing more about your situation, that sounds like a totally unreasonable fee to me. The usual rate may be a little higher (33-1/3%), but that certainly would not justify a full hourly rate on top of a significant percentage. I have never charged a client that much. Double-check your fee agreement, and if you are correct, ask him why such a high fee. You do have the right to have the Washington State Bar Association review his fees to determine whether they are reasonable or not.
This answer is intended to provide general guidance only and does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please consider retaining legal counsel if you remain uncertain about your rights.
I agree with my collegues that you need to talk to your attorney. Clearly by that fee agreement he feels that liability is a significant issue if not some of your damages as well. Contigency fee cases require that it is the attorney who carries the risks of litigation, not the client. Premises cases like yours often require safety experts, building code experts, human factor experts which can be quite expensive to prove liability. To you your case is clear, but it may be tougher than you realize to take it trial and convince a jury.
You certainly can consult with another attorney and decide to change attorneys if you find one that you like who is willing to continue your case. However, you need to review your fee agreement and see what is required of you should you change attorneys. It may require reimbursement of costs and an acceptance of an attorney's lein for work already done.
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