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Lombardi Law Firm

Contingent Fee Agreements Should be in Writing

Steve Lombardi
Iowa civil trial, workers' compensation and personal injury lawyer

Blog Category:
3/2/2013
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Question: In a personal injury case what is the 1/3 contingency fee? 

Question Detail: Firstly I've limited English. I am Turkish guy. I have a personal injury case. Before the agreement with Turkish lawyer she told me, 1/3 Contingency fee means, what we recover the amount. We will minus your medical expenses or injury related expenses then Lawyer case related expenses, then I will get 1/3 she told me. In addition, she gave me agreement with Turkish. I read carefully and signed agreement with English. But the problem is English agreement is not name the Turkish. Turkish agreement says lawyer get the 1/3 after expenses both side (Lawyer expenses, my medical expenses). Now She turned to me 1/3 means Gross total. I am confused I feel cheated. I and my attorney orally agree the 1/3 means after all expense s (my side and attorney side)and I read and signed Turkish agreement that says 1/3 means after all expenses (my side and attorney no attorney told me your bill yours responsibility. You are going to pay yourself. We are not going to minus from Gross amount. Please advise me. What should I do?

Answer: Start off reading the contract you signed. You're in America and the native language here is English not Turkish. The lawyer gets paid according to the contingent fee agreement. I use a written contract in every case, even in hourly cases. We end with the agreement we started with. If you don’t have a written agreement then in Iowa the lawyer has a problem because he’s supposed to have one in every contingent fee case. It’s a matter of the rules being followed. As for the contingent fee coming out after the medical bills are paid, I disagree with you. Why would you think the lawyer should pay 1/3rd of your medical expense? I can't think of a reason so normally the 1/3rd comes off the top, not the net. Your medical bills are not the legal responsibility of the lawyer. The lawyer was hired to get money, not to be responsible for your medical expense. Good luck.



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