February 6, 2013
Article By William Dorsey.
Contact Us With Your Personal Injury Law Questions.
Often people who are injured due to the negligence, professional misconduct, or other unreasonable actions of others, and who become plaintiffs in civil lawsuits, have limited financial means. Perhaps the injuries you suffered as a result of another driver’s negligence prevent you from working, destroying your ability to provide for yourself and your family. Perhaps a doctor’s medical malpractice has harmed you to such an extent that you need 24-hour nursing care, and are unable to care for yourself or your children. In many cases, plaintiffs in civil lawsuits are harmed not only by their injuries, but also by the severe financial hardships those injuries place on the injured person and his/her family.
First, it is important to know what options are not available to you. Your lawyer cannot lend money to you. Ethics rules that govern all attorney conduct prevent your lawyer from assisting you in this way. This rule exists to prevent you and your attorney from being in an adversarial position to one another, which could happen if difficulty arose within the lending transaction, and would not be in your best interest. Along these same lines, your attorney cannot pay your medical expenses, for similar reasons. Your lawyer can, however, retain, and pay for, medical experts. These experts, including physicians, can examine you and diagnose you, or otherwise give his/her opinion about your injuries.
One thing your attorney can do to ease your up-front financial burden is to agree to take your case on what’s called a “contingency” basis. Attorneys who advertise that “you pay nothing unless we win your case” are offering a contingency arrangement. In this type of arrangement, you pay your lawyer nothing up front to retain him/her, but rather pay him/her a percentage of your recovery at the conclusion of your case. In many contingency arrangements, the percentage differs depending on the point in the legal process that the case resolves. For instance, an attorney working on a contingency fee often collects a smaller percentage if a case settles shortly after the initial filings than if the case settles immediately before trial. This allows you to obtain quality legal representation without spending large up-front sums, such as up-front retainer fees, which are common in other types of cases.
Additionally, a realm of businesses exists to provide money to people who are plaintiffs in pending legal cases. Some of these businesses may pay you money without requiring you to pass a credit check, and may only demand repayment when, and if, you win your case. These businesses typically offer their services to people who are plaintiffs, or are planning to file a complaint in a civil matter, and are represented by an attorney. However, the rates charged by these businesses typically exceed those offered by traditional lenders. Generally, these funding options are resources of last resort, and may not be advisable for you. You may want to consult your attorney before utilizing one of these services.