What Percentage Should I Pay to a Wrongful Death Lawyer?
From the day we are born, we are at risk for injury or harm. There are over 200,000 unintentional injury deaths annually in the United States alone.
The benefits of having a medical system, government regulations, and first aid training are that more people survive. Deaths still occur, though, and are sometimes avoidable.
Others are not. Sometimes, another person or company is solely responsible for a death. If you live in the Houston area, then you need to hire a Houston death attorney when this happens.
When that happens, what percentage will a wrongful death lawsuit cost?
Here is everything you need to know about the payment and rates for a wrongful death attorney.
What Is a Wrongful Death?
A wrongful death is when someone dies because of another party’s actions or lack thereof. Usually, this is when someone performed negligent acts while having a duty of care to you.
The most prominent examples of this tend to be doctors and hospitals. They are responsible for following healthcare standards that are put in place, and they are tasked with giving you, at minimum, a basic level of care.
Examples are giving you a proper bed in a hospital and feeding you three times a day while you have a room there. Also, they are expected to keep your medical records organized, and it is reasonable to expect any lab they work with keep careful track of your bloodwork.
For example, let’s say you got an STD test and sent bloodwork to a lab. It gets to the lab, and the results show you tested negative for everything. However, in reality, the bloodwork indicates you have HIV.
It would help if you got treatment for this illness as soon as possible. If not, it can get significantly worse and turn into AIDS.
In this example, your bloodwork could have been mixed up with somebody else’s, and the lad did not realize their mistake until years later. As a result, someone may have died due to the condition, and now, there is a wrongful death due to a negligent act by the lab.
You need to prove negligence, prove that the defendant breached a duty of care for you, and you need to prove that compensation is owed for certain expenses because of this act.
How Much Is a Wrongful Death Lawyer?
One question you will have is how much a wrongful death lawyer costs. Well, the short answer is it depends on your case.
The long answer is that it will likely depend on how much you get in your settlement. Then, a lawyer will take what is called a contingency fee.
A contingency fee means you do not have to pay any upfront attorney costs. However, the deal is that you must give your lawyer a certain percentage of the settlement money you receive as compensation.
So, how much money is this? According to the American Bar Association, most contingency fees range from 33 to 40%.
This means that when you aim for a settlement, you have to account for the fee you must pay your attorney.
For example, say you need $50,000 to pay all the bills and lost income you had because of wrongful death. Then, let’s say your lawyer had a 33% contingency fee.
Here, you would have to make sure that your attorney gets a higher settlement so you can still get the money you need from that settlement. In this example, that would have to be $75,000 to meet your needs while giving your lawyer their contingency fee.
What If They Lose?
So, the question is, what happens if your attorney loses this case? Do they still get the 33 to 40% contingency fee if there is no settlement money?
Most of the time, the answer is no. That can be a benefit of having a contingency fee arrangement with a lawyer.
Yes, you might think the percentage is relatively high, but the pro here is that your lawyer has a strong incentive to win the case and get the highest settlement possible. That is because it affects what goes into their own pockets significantly.
So, if you know a lawyer is aware they may not get paid anything for this case if they lose, you know they are likely doing everything they can to ensure you get the settlement you deserve.
However, there are times that you may have to pay a lawyer if you lose. For instance, some lawyers may charge you a small retainer fee if they expect this case to be lengthier than expected. Of course, that is on top of a possible more significant risk of losing the case.
An example can be a wrongful death case that goes to trial. Trial cases are significantly more expensive than ones that settle before they reach that stage. On top of that, it is more difficult for a plaintiff to win a case that reaches the trial stage.
However, try not to worry, as it is very uncommon for cases to get to that stage. About 95% of cases get settled before trial.
Keep these factors in mind when you hire a lawyer for your case.
What You Get
This arrangement benefits people who cannot afford a lawyer out of their pocket. The reason is that a lawyer will put their resources into this case before receiving a dime.
When it comes to wrongful death cases, these often take a couple of years to resolve, and they tend to be more complex, requiring more proof and extensive investigation hours.
That can be thousands of unpaid hours of work for an attorney, at least until they get their contingency fee anyway. Plus, this type of arrangement can help cover any extra costs.
For example, let’s say your case needs an expert witness to put the evidence over the top. However, they require a certain fee, which is too much for you to pay out of pocket.
No worries! That is what a contingency fee is for.
A lawyer can pay an expert witness and use that later as part of the contingency fee. Sometimes, a lawyer may charge a higher contingency fee because of it.
Take the time to consider these factors. If you are trying to get the proper compensation but have no savings or assets to take legal action, you can significantly benefit from a contingency fee payment agreement.
Who Can Hire This Lawyer?
So, one thing you may be wondering is if you can represent the deceased person. Well, the answer depends on who their next of kin is.
For example, if the deceased was the head of the household, then either the surviving spouse or children of that person have the right to represent them in this case. That can mean getting them a loss of future wages that would have gone to that person’s dependents.
It comes down to which person had the right to receive a financial benefit from the deceased. Typically, those are limited to people that are living with that person.
However, say that the person who died had no children and no spouse to look after. Then, in that situation, a parent, sibling, aunt, uncle, or even cousin may step in to take action on this case.
If there is no obvious next of kin, like the family living with the deceased, it will come down to who the closest relative is.
Usually, parents would take priority if a spouse or children are not involved. Then, it would be a sibling of the deceased. After that, it can be someone such as an aunt, uncle, or cousin.
However, if it is someone outside the immediate household, they would have to prove that there was a direct financial loss.
Before you go to a lawyer, figure out where you belong in this pecking order. Maybe you are just a friend that is trying to help. Regardless, ask a lawyer what your rights are.
Hire a Houston Death Attorney
These are some of the things you need to know when it comes to hiring a Houston death attorney.
Typically, they will ask for a contingency fee that ranges between 33 to 40%. However, know that you are getting their best effort because along with that comes the possibility of them not getting paid anything for the case.
Do you need legal representation? Message us today to ask about your case.