Family Sues After Woman Shot During Jan 6 Riot
A family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the U.S. government after a woman was shot and killed by police during the January 6 Capitol Riot. The initial lawsuit was dismissed without prejudice, which meant that the family could refile if they wanted. An attorney taking the case sought funding from the public to crowdfund the effort, which is something that never happens in a legitimate wrongful death suit.
So, why would an attorney crowdfund the costs of litigation? In most cases, personal injury lawyers like ourselves only earn money when we win a case. We take 33% of the final award plus any costs related to expert witnesses. So, if we settle a $1 million suit for a client, we earn about $300,000 from that, more than most people make in a year.
The general sense of doing it this way is that your personal injury lawyer’s interests are aligned with yours. We win when you win. So why would a personal injury lawyer crowdsource a wrongful death litigation and is it ethical to do that?
You should never give money to a personal injury lawyer
No respectable personal injury lawyer is going to accept payment from a client to file a lawsuit. However, this creates a situation where the attorney has to pick and choose which lawsuits he thinks will be the most successful. Otherwise, the attorney has wasted their time on a bogus suit and earned nothing. For that reason, if the attorney doesn’t think he can win the suit, he simply will not take it.
By the time that attorney is asking for public help funding the litigation, it’s largely because he knows that the case is unwinnable and knows he won’t be getting paid on contingency. So, he looks for alternative means to file the suit.
This is okay in cases where an attorney may want to fight a bad law. However, there are non-profit legal clinics that do this all the time. They can afford to take cases they know they will lose because it forces the matter before the court, sets precedent, and creates new avenues for future litigation. It can also force legislators to address issues by exemplifying how the law causes injustice.
In this case, the plaintiffs want the government held accountable for the death of a woman who was engaged in the January 6 event. The fund raised $500,000 before the suit was dismissed. At that point, the money should have been returned to the donors. However, the money remained in limbo, and the plaintiff’s estate has now secured a new lawyer.
The officer blamed for the shooting has not been charged.
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