Am I responsible for the case expenses if I lose my case?
Lawyers are ethically permitted to bear the sole responsibility for case expenses, known as disbursements, if you lose your case. This means that if you lose your case, you do not have to reimburse your lawyer for the case expenses. This is a huge burden lifted from your shoulders, as the case expenses can run between $25,000 to $100,000, and in some cases, in excess of $100,000.
There's a big "IF". If your retainer agreement with your lawyer specifies that you are not responsible for case expenses in the event you lose your case, then you have nothing to worry about. However, most retainer agreements place the ultimate responsibility for case expenses on you, i.e., if you lose your case, you must reimburse your lawyer for the case expenses. Not a pretty picture for you.
If you want to protect yourself from potential financial ruin, you must insist that your lawyer specify in the retainer agreement that you are not responsible for reimbursing your lawyer for the case expenses. For example, in every retainer agreement that I ask clients to sign there is a paragraph stating:
"If there is no recovery whether by settlement, judgment or otherwise, client will not be responsible for the reimbursement of disbursements to [My Law Firm]."
By insisting upon such a paragraph in the retainer agreement, you are protecting yourself against the possibility of owing your lawyer a huge sum of money at the conclusion of your case. What if you lose your case? No one likes to think that way, but you have to. There is no such thing as a sure bet.
If your lawyer is unwilling to accept the sole responsibility for the case expenses, then it might be time to find a new lawyer...perhaps one who believes in your case and is willing to accept the risk of a loss.
If you have questions or want more information, I welcome your phone call on my toll-free cell at 1-866-889-6882 or you can send me an e-mail at [email protected] . You are always welcome to request a FREE copy of my book, The Seven Deadly Mistakes of Malpractice Victims, at the home page of my website at www.protectingpatientrights.com.