Personal Injury Law
Personal Injury Law Questions? Ask Personal Injury Lawyers.
It is very common in contingency fee arrangements for the plaintiff to have to pay for costs. Sometimes the attorney will choose to advance costs, such as paying for a deposition, but the attorney keeps track and those costs are almost always recovered from the plaintiff's share. What is unusual is for an attorney to want to take on a case, or suggest pursuing a case, where the costs are likely to exceed the recovery. If that really is likely here, then what the attorney is suggesting is unethical. Most attorneys would not take a case where the likely recovery was only $5,000 unless the costs were projected to be minimal if anything. Perhaps you could add in a caveat that costs can not exceed recovery. The problem I see is that with personal injury cases, there is always a clause that says that the case can not be settled by the attorney unless the client agrees. I am not sure how that work with restitution, but perhaps a similar clause could be inserted? In any event, make sure the attorney supplies her with monthly statements showing all the costs as they are being accrued.
When he says the fees are capped at 40%, he is talking about his contingency fees, not costs. You would not put something in the actual contract saying that the claim faces long odds or that the attorney does not anticipate incurring significant expenses. He is just saying that he is not going to put himself out on a financial limb by incurring a boatload of costs in a case when he likely will recover nothing, because then he will be on the hook for all those costs. I see his point there. I think this guy is OK. If you are happy with my answer, please give me a positive rating so I can be paid.