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I just read that even though you take cases on a contingency basis, I may ultimately be responsible for your legal expenses to prosecute my case. Is this true?


A: In New York, the answer is yes. Most lawyer advertisements don't talk about this. Yes, it is true. The client bears the ultimate responsibility to pay for the legal expenses at the end of the case. What this means is that if we win your case, or get you money in a settlement, then the money that my firm has paid, over the course of the litigation, comes back to us. This is really an 'interest-free' loan to the client which allows them to bring a lawsuit without spending any money out of their own pocket. In the event we lose a case, and cannot recover any money, the law (which was recently changed) now says that we COULD ask the client for our attorney expenses, and the client would be RESPONSIBLE for paying all of the attorney's expenses to prosecute the lawsuit. In many cases, medical malpractice cases especially, the costs are huge and can range from a five figure range, all the way up to six figures. However, I personally have never asked a client to reimburse me for my expenses if we are unsuccessful in a client's case. Not only is it a blow to the client to lose a case, but to then be hit with a lawyer's bill for many thousands of dollars simply does not make good business sense. That's why, when you search for an attorney, you MUST ask whether they will require you to pay their legal expenses in the event your are not successful with your lawsuit. Some lawyers will make you pay. Ask lots of questions, and you'll be a better informed consumer when heading into any litigation.