Lawyers receive more than five times my compensation?

by Janis
(Los Angeles, CA)

I had a lawyer for my injury case that charged me his 40%, plus filing fees, secretarial fees, copying, etc. The total settlement was for $175,000, but I am only receiving $31,000...the rest went for fees. That is ridiculous!

The apartment complex was sued and so were the gardeners. There were two separate checks. As far as I have been told there is only one check.

How can you justify the injured person gets only $31,000 and the lawyers received over $175,000? How can that be possible? Also, I had cervical spine surgery and the peek cage now needs to be replaced. Who pays for that? Please explain how this can be legal. Thank you.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Lawyers receive more than five times my compensation?":

Janis (Los Angeles, CA):

Stop, breathe, and read the Attorney's fee agreement. That's the document you signed at the time you decided to retain the attorney.

If you failed to read the contract, you have no one to blame but yourself. Before you retained the attorney you had every right and opportunity to consult with other personal injury attorneys in your area. It is possible another attorney might have been less expensive.

What you should realize is your attorney charged you nothing in advance in legal fees or costs to pursue your injury case.

Moreover, during the pursuit of your case your attorney likely had to pay substantial costs out of his or her own pocket, including private investigation fees, court reporter fees for depositions, filing fees, medical expert fees, and more. Those are all monies the attorney has a right to be reimbursed for at the conclusion of the case.

Your attorney took a chance when accepting your case. In the event the attorney was not able to settle the case, or lost it at trial, the attorney would have made nothing. And all the time and costs he or she expended would be lost. Ultimately, as the client, you would have owed nothing.

Then there is the matter of the time and expertise your attorney provided. Attorneys can spend hundreds of hours creating petitions, writing motions, taking depositions, discussing the case with medical experts, engaging in additional pretrial discovery, and much more.

At, or about the time you received your check from the attorney you very likely received a written breakdown of the attorney's fees and costs expended in your case. Read the breakdown thoroughly. Then, if you have further questions or need additional clarification, ask your attorney to sit down with you and go through the breakdown.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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