Fayetteville, AR asked in Wrongful Death for Arkansas

Q: In wrongful death case, should law firm be awarded a 1/3 contingency fee based on fault drivers required $25K auto insur

Insurance consists of ($25,000 is the amount required by state law minimum) along with deceased's own $25,000 under-insured motorist auto policy, resulting in law firm's award of $16,666.50 from the two policies totaling $50,000.00?

(The fault driver was ticketed for improper U-turn. Deceased was on motorcycle.)

Deceased's 2 sons and his widow each received only little over $9,000 after hospital lien of $5,000+ was subtracted second after contingency fee calculated first, i.e., calculation was $50,000 (from the two $25,000 insurance policies) less 1/3 law firm's contingency fee of $16,666.50 less hospital lien of around $5,000, then divided by 3 resulting in the beneficiaries amount of around $9,000 each, see following calculation:

$50,000.00 insurance

-16,666.50 contingency fee

- 5,000.00 hospital lien (around)

=$27,000.00+ (divided 3 ways to beneficiaries)

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1 Lawyer Answer

A: If the law firm received a contingent fee, that fee would have to have been agreed by the widow and children in advance. Were they all over the age of majority when they signed the agreement? I would question the law firm's taking their fee from the $50 K settlement; they should have known or suspected that there would be a hospital lien. Was any mention of the hospital lien made in the contingent fee contract? If not,the settlement actually received would be ~ $45 K. The firm should get a third of that.

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