Wrongful Death Lawsuits and Attorney Fees
UPDATED: March 23, 2014
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A wrongful death lawsuit is an appropriate claim when someone caused an accident or an injury to another person that led to the victim's death. Usually brought by close family members of the deceased, such as a spouse, the payout for a wrongful death claim can be very high. However, the cases can also be complex and time consuming and you'll need to hire a wrongful death lawyer to help. If you find yourself in this situation, it is important to understand how a wrongful death lawyer is normally compensated in a wrongful death lawsuit.
No Win - No Fee
The vast majority of wrongful death lawsuits are handled by wrongful death attorneys on a contingency fee basis. This essentially means the wrongful death lawyer's fee is contingent upon winning the case. If you do not successfully obtain damages, either through a settlement or a jury verdict, the lawyer gets nothing for the case. This removes much of the risk of bringing a wrongful death lawsuit, since you won't end up stuck with legal fees unless you receive money yourself, then your lawyer gets a percentage.
How Much Is the Contingency Fee in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
The contingency fee that is paid to the attorney in a wrongful death lawsuit is usually based on a percentage of the winning verdict. Commonly, this percentage may range anywhere from ten percent (10%) of the damages to fifty percent (50%) of the damages. Thirty percent tends to be the most common amount, however.
Many lawyers will charge the percentage on a sliding scale based on when the case is resolved. For example, you may pay fifteen percent (15%) of your damages in attorney's fees if the case is settled outside of court, but 45 percent if the case goes to trial and is then appealed.
Wrongful death damages generally include a lifetime of lost wages that the victim would have earned, among other things. These damages can be quite substantial, so it is imperative you get legal help to go through the process of filing a wrongful death lawsuit.