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Lawyer wants 40% for attorney fee's plus litigation costs. This worries me as to what % this might cost in the end.

Pittsburgh, PA |

Wife fell in parking lot of a Kings restaurant and this resulted in a concussion. I'm worried that we may end up with a small % of the final settlement if the litigation costs are to high. Is this a normal agreement or is it too high.

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Attorney answers 3

Posted

The key is not the percentage but rather the attorney's track record with similar cases. You want the best attorney in your area, and 40% is rather standard in Pennsylvania. Some will post to shop for a lower fee but I disagree. Litigation costs are the cost of filing the complaint, expert witness costs, deposition costs and the like. The reason they are called contingent fees is that the attorney "gambles" and advances all of these costs for you. If he or she recovers nothing, then you don't have to repay the litigation costs. A jury can always find that you should have seen the ice, hole, curb, rut, lettuce leaf or whatever you fell on, and if that happens, you will be assigned a percentage of fault. If your own fault exceeds 50% you will recover nothing. That's why many lawyers won't even take slip and fall cases anymore. Good luck.

Please note that these answers are provided as a community service and are not meant to create an attorney-client relationship.

Asker

Posted

Thank you for the advice, it was very helpful.

Posted

You should concentrate on getting an experienced negligence lawyer with a good track record. Fall- down cases are difficult for the best trial lawyers. If the lawyer you consulted wants the case then he/she believes there is a good chance of prevailing. 40% is not uncommon for a fall-down case even if the lawyer's usual rate is one-third (the most common contingent fee rate). The percentage is sometimes increased due to the nature of the case and how much time is necessary to prepare for trial. We trial lawyers have to base contingency rates on the assumption that the case goes to trial or beyond. If the case is settled quickly you may think it's a windfall for the lawyer and resent the fee but the windfalls offset the disappointing results and average out. At least that's the business plan. Also, without contingent fees most people could not afford to hire an attorney on an hourly basis for these types of cases. You can easily find a lawyer who will charge a lower % but beware the injury mills and bottom feeders who count on volume of clients, not quality work. Litigation costs, in some arrangements come off the top, with what's left being split 60/40. It is more favorable for the lawyer if the arrangement is for the legal fee to be 40% of the gross recovery. You can negotiate. If the lawyer won't negotiate then you just have to decide, do I want this lawyer to represent me or not?

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Michael A Ferrara Jr

Michael A Ferrara Jr

Posted

What Mr Dion said is extremely valuable advice.

Asker

Posted

Thanks to both of you for your great advice. I Was mainly worried I might actually end up owing money to the attorney if settlement is small.

Posted

What Attorney Ferarra said is correct. 40% is the standard in my area of Pennsylvania. Plus, the attorney can recover his costs he advanced for your case such as filing fees, expert testimony, costs of medical documents, etc. Slip and falls in parking lots are not easy cases to win in my jurisdiction unless there is clear evidence the property owner was negligent. If your attorney is experienced, listen to what he is telling you.

Asker

Posted

Thank you for taking the time to answer my question. Is it possible I could end up paying litigation costs out of my own pocket if settlement is low. After medical costs (reimbursement for insurance co.) and attorney fee's are taken out do you think this is possible?

William Ray Pelger

William Ray Pelger

Posted

I guess if the settlement was so low there was a balance of costs due. I think if it was close, an attorney would lower his fee and work with you a bit. However., i cannot speak for another atttorney. You need to read your fee agreeement and talk to your attorney about this.

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