Last modified: May 11, 2021
Upfront Costs and Fees of Hiring a Mesothelioma Attorney
Typically, mesothelioma law firms do not charge any upfront costs or fees. Most of them work on a contingency fee basis so your family doesn’t have to pay anything unless the law firm wins your case.
Make sure to ask your attorney about the difference in client costs and attorney fees to fully understand how the law firm bills clients. Costs the client is responsible for, such as photocopies and court filing expenses, differ from attorney fees. Regardless of how clients are billed, you usually only have to pay if the firm recovers money pertaining to your claim.
Even though a percentage of your compensation will go to attorney fees, you or your family should receive more compensation than you otherwise would if you did not hire an experienced mesothelioma lawyer.
How Much Is a Lawyer Consultation?
Mesothelioma lawyers typically offer free consultations. These consultations are for you to gauge your comfort level with the attorney. There is no financial commitment.
One of the first things you’ll discover during your consultation is whether your claim has exceeded the statute of limitations for you to legally file. The statute of limitations is the amount of time you have to make your claim. The time frame varies by state and usually ranges from one to six years from the date of diagnosis. Most qualified attorneys will not provide a case value during your consultation, but they will discuss your potential for compensation.
What Are the Total Costs and Fees for Hiring an Asbestos Attorney?
Attorney fees and costs cover the operational and administrative expenses to handle your case. These may include court filing expenses, recording and conducting depositions, hiring professional witnesses and investigators, evidence gathering and salaries for the attorneys and staff working your case.
Mesothelioma attorney fees often vary depending upon how and when compensation is awarded and upon the state where the contract for legal assistance is signed.
Examples of fees:
- Fees for lawsuits that go to trial can range from 33.33% to 40%.
- Fees for trust fund claims average around 25%.
The varying fee rates reflect how much time and resources a mesothelioma law firm must spend on cases that go to trial.
How Is a Mesothelioma Payout Disbursed?
Using the previously mentioned examples, if the attorney’s fee for a case that goes to trial is 33.33%, then for every $1,000 in settlements you get $667 and your attorney gets $333. If you qualify for a asbestos trust fund claim, for every $1,000 in compensation you get $750 and your attorney gets $250. A portion of awards could be subject to taxes.
Understanding the Mesothelioma Attorney-Client Agreement
Once you’ve selected a qualified attorney who communicates clearly with you and makes you feel comfortable, it’s time to seal the deal by signing a client agreement.
A client agreement outlines the duties and responsibilities of both the attorney and the client. The agreement, which may also be called an engagement agreement, often appears in the form of a letter with space at the end for your signature. Your attorney will prepare the document for your review.
If you have already established a good rapport and trust your attorney, you may be tempted to sign the agreement without further discussion. But you should review the document and ask questions. Both parties should understand each other’s expectations from the beginning of the relationship.
A client agreement usually addresses the following, among other issues:
This section of the agreement explains your lawyer’s fees for representing you. There are three types of fee allocation. Mesothelioma attorneys usually operate under a contingency fee. Other attorney fee options include a flat fee and hourly fee.
- Contingency Fee: Most mesothelioma attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. This means that your attorney’s payment depends on whether your case is successful. The attorney typically receives a percentage of the amount you win at trial or receive from a mesothelioma settlement. The percentage sometimes differs depending on the stage in which your case ends, such as whether it settles before discovery, trial or entry of a final judgment. If you do not receive compensation, you usually do not pay anything.
- Flat Fee: Some lawyers charge a flat rate to represent you. Unlike attorneys who work on a contingent basis, these attorneys receive some payment regardless of whether you win.
- Hourly Fee: Other lawyers charge an hourly rate for the time they spend working on your case. These rates range from a couple of hundred to several hundred dollars per hour, depending on rates in your lawyer’s particular market. They receive at least some payment regardless of whether you win.
Be aware that plaintiff’s attorneys must spend countless hours preparing and litigating a case. This can become quite costly during mesothelioma lawsuits that can last for years if your attorney is charging you on an hourly basis. If the mesothelioma case goes to trial, your attorney could end up working around the clock for several weeks. Fortunately, most mesothelioma lawyers work on a contingency fee basis.
The agreement will outline differences in attorney fees and client costs. Costs the client is responsible for include court filings, photocopies, deposition transcriptions, postage and trial exhibits. The law firm will likely front the money required for these expenses. But be sure to find out if and how they will be reimbursed, particularly if the case is ultimately unsuccessful.
Duration of Engagement
Never assume your attorney will represent you if a trial verdict is appealed by you or by a defendant. Most engagements terminate after a settlement or a final judgment, whichever occurs later. Separate counsel is usually hired to handle appeals. Trial attorneys often do not represent cases if there is an appeal, but rather refer them to lawyers who work exclusively on appeals.
This section of the agreement explains how your attorney will keep your personal information confidential. Only information that is relevant to your case and discoverable under court rules will be provided to the defendants. Your communications with your attorney will also be kept confidential.
Conflicts of Interest
Your attorney must disclose any relationships with clients who have opposing interests. For instance, ethical rules would likely prohibit an attorney from representing both you and the asbestos manufacturing executive whose decisions caused your injuries.
Likewise, it would be inappropriate for an attorney to accept the engagement if he or she has an ownership interest in a company you are suing. The attorney will check for any conflicts before entering into a client relationship with you.
This section of the agreement explains how you are expected to cooperate with those handling your case. For instance, you must keep your attorney informed if you move or if any of your contact information changes. Your attorney will also promptly notify you of developments in your case.
Occasionally a client, an attorney or both may decide the attorney-client relationship should not continue. The termination section explains how either party should go about ending the relationship. Court approval may be required before an attorney can step down from a case. Arrangements must also be made to transfer files and share information with new legal counsel.
Do the Benefits Outweigh Costs of Asbestos Legal Action?
Despite the costs of hiring an asbestos attorney, it’s almost always better than not taking action against negligent employers and manufacturers. Even though a percentage of any reward you receive will go toward attorney fees and other expenses, you will still get the compensation that you deserve.
Your case will be handled efficiently and compassionately by lawyers with a lot of experience helping families facing mesothelioma. And you should get more compensation than you otherwise would if you did not hire an experienced asbestos attorney.
Filing a lawsuit might seem like a daunting process, but mesothelioma cases are handled uniquely because most plaintiffs are not well enough to personally attend hearings, motions or other case-related occurrences. Your attorney will usually travel to you and handle every step of the legal process. They can also walk you through the process of filing a claim after death.
It is important to weigh your legal options with your family. If you or your family have questions, speak to an attorney and get a consultation. A qualified mesothelioma attorney can address all of your concerns.
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