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How Much Does a Nursing Home Lawyer Charge

Considering hiring a nursing home lawyer to help you recover money for a loved one injured, abused, or defrauded in a nursing home? If so, you're probably curious about the cost of hiring a nursing home lawyer.

Many factors affect your bottom line, including:

  • The method the lawyer uses to bill for his or her services
  • How much the lawyer charges
  • The different costs associated with a case that settles versus going to trial
  • Whether you end up with a financial award and the amount of that award

Depending on how the lawyer bills will also impact how much you will end up paying your lawyer. Many nursing home lawyers will charge either a contingency fee or an hourly rate.

With a contingency fee, you pay your nursing home lawyer nothing up front but instead pay a percentage of any financial settlement or award directly to your lawyer, plus expenses. If you recover no money, you pay nothing. (Most lawyers will waive the expenses if you do not receive a financial award.)

An hourly rate, also called an hourly fee, is exactly what it sounds like: You pay the lawyer by the hour for all the work he or she puts into your case. You are also required to pay for the lawyer's expenses-such as filing fees-connected with your case. Your lawyer is paid regardless of the outcome of the case

Hiring a Lawyer on Contingency

Some nursing home abuse lawyers work on contingency because that method offers advantages for the clients:

  • You pay your lawyer no money up front
  • You pay your lawyer no money if you do not receive a financial award from the people or nursing home operator you are suing
  • Because your lawyer has a financial stake in the outcome of your case, he or she will work hard to secure a large award on your behalf.

On the other hand, if your case settles fast (which is not typical in nursing home cases), you may feel that your lawyer's work does not fully justify such a large fee.

A lawyer who works on contingency may be willing to work on a graduated scale, for example, taking a smaller percentage if the case settles quickly. However, you would have to ask about this arrangement before agreeing to hire the lawyer.

Hiring a Lawyer for an Hourly Rate

Some lawyers, such as those who handle business matters or divorces, charge by the hour as a matter of practice. Hourly fees, however, are less common among lawyers who try personal injury and negligence cases, of which nursing homes can be a subset. This is because many personal injury clients cannot afford to pay the hourly fees out of pocket while still juggling medical expenses to treat the injuries. However, if your allegation has to do with financial fraud, your lawyer may be more likely to charge an hourly rate.

If you choose an attorney who charges an hourly rate, you will be likely asked to pay a retainer fee, or an initial fee to get the case started. You'll subsequently make monthly payments while the case is in progress.

If you are unable to find an attorney to take up your nursing home abuse case on contingency, the lawyers may be sending a message that your case is not strong and not worth their time. If you decide to hire an attorney by the hour, make sure you get an honest assessment of your case before you hand over a retainer.

Also, be clear on the expenses associated with taking the case all the way to trial, which is much more expensive than settling. You are making an investment of your time and money with this attorney; you want to be certain it is worth the risk.

The Cost of Hiring a Nursing Home Attorney

When interviewing nursing home lawyers, ask for a detailed estimate of costs before choosing one to hire. You'll want to be very clear on the lawyer's billing method, i.e., the hourly rate if necessary or the percentage expected in a contingency arrangement. You'll also want to know what-if anything-you may be expected to pay if the case is unsuccessful.

You should also find out:

  • What your attorney thinks your case is worth if it settles, or goes to trial
  • About how much you would pay in legal fees if the case settles or goes to trial
  • About how much you would pay for the legal expenses associated with your case if it settles or goes to trial
  • About how much you'd take home after legal fees and expenses if you settle or go to trial

Once you understand the dynamics of your lawyer's billing method, you'll have a much better grip on what it costs to hire a nursing home lawyer.