Can Massachusetts Personal Injury Attorneys Advance Monies to Clients?
No. It’s not allowed. That’s the rule. But, of course, there are exceptions. If you have a serious personal injury case and need monies to live, the best way may be to find a law suit lender. We have written about law suit lenders because we worry about our clients being taken advantage by them. On the other hand, sometimes it is the only way for a victim of a personal injury to maintain any sort of lifestyle.
Some attorneys provide monies directly to clients in advance of settlement of judgment to help them maintain their lifestyle or for an emergency. This is not proper. Nevertheless, we hear about it regularly.
Costs of Personal Injury Lawsuits
Today, however, we want to address some of the key exceptions to the rule: the costs of suit. When you have a serious personal injury lawsuit, or Massachusetts wrongful death lawsuit, personal injury trial attorneys will generally advance or pay the “costs” of a lawsuit. Those costs include the filing fee, the service of the summons on the defendants, the cost of the deposition transcripts, and the expert witness fees. Of course there may be other costs, but the distinction is between out of pocket costs to third parties to sustain a lawsuit verses advancing monies directly to the client to sustain a lifestyle. Massachusetts Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 1.8(e) allows for such advancement of costs by the attorney, not monies directly to the client. This rule matches the American Bar Association guidelines.
Contingent Fee Cases
It is understood that we are discussing motor vehicle accident cases, personal injury cases, and wrongful death cases that the attorney and client have signed a written contingent fee agreement. The fee is contingent on successful resolution – money – of the case.
On January 1, 2013, a new rule, Massachusetts Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 1.5, went into play regarding contingent fee cases. This rule requires that all (most anyway) fee arraignments between attorneys and clients in Massachusetts be reduced to writing and that a copy of the agreement be sent to the client. Of significance is that fees and expenses must be outlined in the fee agreement; thus, the contingent fee is clear, however, expenses are not always so clear. Further, if the claim results in a lawsuit, the expenses could escalate dramatically.
Another important part of the contingent fee agreement under the new rules is that when there is a fee to be paid to another lawyer, typically a referring attorney, that fee must be disclosed in writing on the fee agreement. Furthermore, the client must consent, in writing, to such a fee sharing arraignment.
Contingent Fee Cases After Discharging Attorney
The rule requires that if a client discharges his or her attorney before the case resolves, the attorney must provide a written itemization of services and expenses within 20 days unless the contingency fee agreement specifically states that the fee would be paid other than by contingency. In addition, the rule requires that the fee agreement outline how the fee and expenses would be handled in the event of a discharge.
Hire An Experienced Attorney If You Have Been Injured
Entering into a contingent fee agreement is entering into a contract. However, you will need to work closely with your lawyer regarding a significant factor in your life. Hire someone with experience. Hire someone who cares. Call Attorney Neil Burns at 617-227-7423 for a consultation that is free.