We had a personal injury case and our attorney negotiated a settlement of $10,000. The attorney is charging for his costs for the past 2 years and a lower percent. He said he won't charge us the standard fee of 33%, but he is charging us 20% plus his costs which would leave us with only $4,866.00.
I am still looking for our retainer agreement so I can check this out. The settlement agreement has not been signed by us because the amount is too low for the damages and the legal costs too high.
The lawyer said that the judge he spoke with said we should settle the case for 15k or 25k, because it will not hold up in court. Does that sound like a statement that a judge would make? Could I contact the judge to make sure of those statements? Thanks.
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ANSWER for "Getting Less Than Half Our Injury Settlement...":
Feema (Media, PA):
It is our policy not to intervene in the attorney-client relationship. We can though, make some general observations about the questions you have posed...
Your attorney’s decision to lower his contingent fee to 20% plus costs sounds magnanimous. Under most Personal Injury Fee Contracts attorneys are permitted to take 33 1/3rd percent, or 40 percent, depending upon whether the case proceeds to trial or not.
In addition to the contingent percentage, most contracts also state the client is responsible for the costs related to the pursuit of the case. That’s over and above the contingent percentage.
Judges often speak with attorneys about the merits of their cases. Judges have very crowded court dockets and don’t want to waste time with cases in which the outcomes are relatively obvious. That’s the way the trial process works.
You can be completely assured there isn’t a chance in the world the judge will speak with you about the case. That’s not the way it works. Can you imagine if people involved in lawsuits were able to have conversations with judges about their cases? The court system would implode! The judges will ONLY speak to the attorneys who are on record.
From the information you present it sounds like your attorney is being more than fair. You would be well-advised to give serious consideration to his offer.
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