No Recovery, No Fee System Is Not Enough To Protect Elderly From Financial Abuse.
Many plaintiff law firms, such as ours, have a “No Recovery-No Fee” policy. This common approach allows potential plaintiffs to pursue those who wronged them without shelling out significant money for their attorney’s retainer fee. Instead, law firms agree to go without payment for their services, until the conclusion of the case, often receiving a percentage of the amount recovered in the lawsuit. If there is no judgement or settlement in favor if the plaintiff, the attorneys do not get paid.
However, even with this policy in place, many potential plaintiffs are still deterred from filing a lawsuit against the party that harmed them, because – even if they win- their recovery will be significantly diminished by the attorneys fees they will owe at the conclusion of the case.
Welfare & Institutions Code Requires That The Court Award Plaintiff Attorneys Fees
In light of this concern, and in an effort to encourage the elderly to pursue those who steal their money, trick them into a bad financial transaction, or otherwise commit financial elder abuse against them, California enacted Welf. & Inst. Code § 15657.5, which provides, in pertinent part, as follows:
“(a) Where it is proven by a preponderance of the evidence that a defendant is liable for financial abuse, as defined in Section 15610.30, in addition to compensatory damages and all other remedies otherwise provided by law, the court shall award to the plaintiff reasonable attorney’s fees and costs. The term “costs” includes, but is not limited to, reasonable fees for the services of a conservator, if any, devoted to the litigation of a claim brought under this article.” (Welf. & Inst. Code § 15657.5).
As a result, many elderly California residents now have further incentive to pursue those who stole from them. If the plaintiff prevails, the defendant Is liable for the attorney fees and legal costs.
Law Firms Should Carefully Guide Elderly Plaintiffs Through Litigation Process.
Even with the support of the Welfare & Institutions Code, the decision to pursue litigation to recover real estate or financial assets, is especially challenging for elderly plaintiffs. This is especially true when the person who stole the assets is a close friend, caregiver, family member, financial adviser, or legal advisor, to the elderly person. It is therefore critical for law firms to take special care to address the emotional concerns of their elderly clients or their loved ones, when taking the first steps toward recovery.
Our attorneys are experienced at dealing with complex emotional and psychological challenges that arise at the initiation, and throughout the duration, of elder abuse lawsuits. If you would like a no obligation-free consultation with an attorney from our office, contact us today. If you are an attorney and would like to refer a case to our firm contact us here.