Can I Renegotiate my Lawyer’s Fees on a Workers’ Compensation Case?
Honoring a contract that you’ve put your name to is something most of us believe in. Even if it we run into problems with the other party or there are terms we missed in the contract, it’s essential that we uphold our end of the bargain. But there are cases where life takes an unexpected turn, and you may need to renegotiate the terms of your contract. Let’s say, for example, you hire a workers’ compensation lawyer on a contingency fee basis, meaning they will waive any fees upfront and wait to receive a portion of your settlement at the end of your case. But as the weeks and months pass by, you realize that the cost of being injured at work is much higher than you had expected, and you will need to retain as much of your settlement as possible.
If you’re like most people in this situation, you are probably asking yourself, “Can I negotiate for a lower attorney fee for my workers’ comp case after I sign a contract with the lawyer?”
The question of whether one can re-negotiate attorney’s fees is particularly important for those with contingency fee agreements. There are, of course, numerous benefits with this system – most notably, the ability to hire a lawyer without putting your finances at risk. However, there is the problem of how one can modify payment terms on a contract, when the other party was never paid to begin with.
Today, we will explore the concept of negotiating the terms of a contingency-based fee agreement for a workplace injury lawsuit. Though we believe this information will be helpful to you, there will be questions that we cannot address, as they are specific to your own circumstances. To receive further advice and guidance from a workplace accident injury attorney, please contact our office.
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Can I Negotiate my Lawyer’s Fees after I Sign a Contract?
Yes, you can negotiate a fee agreement or re-negotiate an existing agreement with the law firm that’s representing you in a workplace accident claim. You can do this at any stage in your case, though you must keep in mind that your lawyer reserves the right to stick with the terms of the original contract.
Furthermore, you must be prepared to sign a written document outlining the modified terms. Some people feel that this is a minor change to an existing contract, so it can be done verbally. However, California law requires any change to a contract to be made in writing and signed by the client and their lawyer. A written agreement is critical to ensuring that there are no misunderstandings about the exact amount of percentage that it owed to the attorney.
Ethical Dilemmas Regarding Modification of Legal Fees for a Workers’ Comp Case
In this section, we will examine some of the ethical issues that may be involved when a client approaches an attorney with the following question: “Can I re-negotiate for a lower fee on my workplace injury accident case after I sign with the firm?”
Typically, interactions between clients and lawyers are governed by the State Bar. Thus, one would assume that the State Bar of California’s Rules of Professional Conduct offers guidance on how to modify the terms of an existing fee agreement. Unfortunately, the Bar is rather vague on this issue, though nothing in the rules prohibits the renegotiation of fees between clients and their lawyers. Therefore, adjusting payment terms on a workers’ comp settlement is legal, whether you are paying your attorney on an hourly or contingency fee basis.
The important thing is that the client is fully aware of what they are signing and the possible ramifications of such an agreement. This issue is addressed in a report by the State Bar, titled Uncertain Ethics Requirements for Attorney Fee Modifications Counsel Compliance with Rule 3-300 when Modifying a Fee Agreement. In this report, the Bar stresses the need to make sure that fee re-negotiation terms are “fair, reasonable, fully explained and consented to by the client.” The agreement must also be in writing and signed by the client. In addition, lawyers must “advise the client in writing that he or she may wish to consult independent counsel and give the client a reasonable opportunity to do so.”
We are fully in agreement with these terms and the ethical duty we have as lawyers to protect the interests of our clients. After all, the party with greater knowledge of the laws and the legal system has a clear advantage in this situation. At the same time, clients can protect themselves by asking questions and ensuring that they understand exactly what they’re being told by their attorney. If you don’t understand or you have doubts about what they’re telling you, never be afraid to ask for a second opinion from another attorney. You are entitled to counsel from another lawyer according to the State Bar, which is the best way to ensure that you are making an informed decision.
Should I Find a New Lawyer if my Attorney Refuses to Re-Negotiate Their Fee?
Frankly, there is no limit to when you can change lawyers during a case. And there are perfectly good reasons as to why people fire their attorney in the middle of a lawsuit. On the other hand, this is not a decision to be made lightly. There are pros and cons to every choice you make throughout your case, including finding a new law firm to represent you in a workplace injury claim.
So, how can you tell if you are making the right choice when it comes to switching your lawyer? Getting a second opinion from another attorney is a sensible solution. Our law firm is more than happy to provide you with a free second opinion on your workers’ compensation claim. During a private consultation, we will answer any questions you have about the laws, the recommendations by your attorney, and whether it’s to your benefit to transfer your case to our law firm.
As your consultation is completely free of charge, you have nothing to lose by calling us and asking for a free second opinion from a California workplace accident injury attorney.
Zero Fee Guarantee on All Workplace Injury Claims
No cost legal services should be a right, not a privilege when you are struggling to obtain benefits from a workplace accident claim. That’s why we represent clients at no upfront cost, meaning we put up all the costs associated with your lawsuit. As a contingency-based law firm, we receive a portion of your settlement at the end of your case, or we make nothing at all. In other words, we provide you with a Zero Fee Guarantee from start to finish if you decide to hire one of our attorneys.
DTLA Law Group has been representing injured workers in California for over two decades. We are more than ready to fight for your compensation award and ensure that you have the necessary funds to recover from a workplace accident. Contact us right away to learn about your rights and legal options during a free case evaluation.
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