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A Houston Trial Attorney Discusses Payment of Attorney’s Fees. What Clients Need to Know Before Filing a Lawsuit.

A critical issue which is typically misunderstood by clients is the ability to recover attorney’s fee which will be incurred in their case.  Many attorneys intentionally or otherwise avoid the question altogether.

Here are a few pointers to consider which are critical to your potential lawsuit and have come up in my practice as a Houston Trial Attorney.

1. Who is responsible for paying attorney’s fees?

It depends on the type of case involved.  Cases typically involving car wrecks, personal injury, and medical malpractice are set up on a contingency basis which means that the clients do not pay anything up front and the fees come out of the judgment or settlement if successful.  If not, the client typically pays nothing.  These types of cases are pervasive and usually the subject of glaring billboards and sometimes attorneys sporting tanks and cars with bundles of dollars.

2. Are all cases contingent?

No.  Cases of more complex stature – particularly involving economic damages, are almost always paid hourly by the client.  These cases require focused knowledge and experience in unique areas such as Intellectual Property, Business Law, Commercial Transactions, E-Commerce Law, and other areas.  Not to sound crass, but you typically get what you pay for.

3. How are attorney’s fees charged?

Look carefully at the agreement you signed with the law firm as it spells it all out.  The fees are on an hourly basis and the lawyers’ rates and paralegals must be spelled out clearly.

4. How are clients billed?

Almost always monthly.  You should receive an itemized bill.

5. Can you dispute an attorney’s bill?

Absolutely!  Check the entries carefully and compare to your own notes of time expenditure.  If you see any inaccuracy, bring it immediately to the attention of the law firm.

6. Are attorney’s fees recoverable if you win your case?

It depends.  Texas laws set forth what types of claims are subject to the payment of your attorney’s fees.  The good news is that violations of contracts (breach of contract) allow for the recovery of attorney’s fees whether or not it is spelled out in the contract.  However, you have to win the case.  That said, the actual award and – critically – the ultimate amount awarded – is a decision which is made by the judge or jury.

7. Who pays your attorney’s fees?

The better question is “how does a client get reimbursed for fees initially paid to the attorney”.

Simple answer – the losing party.

8. Are all Texas claims subject to the payment of attorney’s fees?

No.  That can be a jarring answer.  For example, although breach of contract claims allow for the recovery of attorney’s fees, many “fraud” claims do not.  This has always been nonsensical to me as you want to punish a defendant who has engaged in fraud.  However, I did not write the laws!

Keep in mind that this is not always a simple question to answer as certain laws allow specifically for the recovery of attorney’s fees based on specialized fraud patterns, for example, where the defendant engaged in deceptive trade practices.  Always best to consult an attorney.

At the Moster Law Firm, we are here to answer your questions and the practical realities of filing a Lawsuit in Houston or anywhere we practice in Texas.  We cover the entire Lone Star State!

Give us a call for a complimentary consultation.

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