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Nevada Legislation Would Cap Attorney Fees at 20 Percent

March 18, 2024 | Posted in : Contingency Fees / POF, Fee Award, Fee Cap / Fee Limits, Hourly Billing, Legislation / Politics

A recent Las Vegas Review-Journal story by Taylor Avery, “Uber-Backed Proposal Would Cap Attorney Fees at 20%”, reports that rideshare company Uber is backing a proposal in Nevada to cap the percentage of fees an attorney can collect in civil cases.  The “Nevadans for Fair Recovery Act,” an initiative petition filed with the Secretary of State’s Office by a group of the same name, aims to ensure plaintiffs receive “their fair share” of awards or settlements in civil cases by capping attorneys’ fees at 20 percent.

Uber lobbyist Harry Hartfield said in a statement that the petition would bring “common sense reforms” to the state’s legal system.  “A system where billboard and television attorneys can afford to spend more than $100 million a year on advertisements and lobbying, while plaintiffs are left with barely half of their judgments, doesn’t benefit anyone except a small number of attorneys,” Hartfield said.  “Our hope is that this ballot measure can bring common sense reforms to the legal system, put victims first and potentially lower costs for all Nevadans.”The Retail Association of Nevada and Nevada Trucking Association are also supporting the measure. 

Major Las Vegas personal injury firms Dimopoulos Law, Adam S. Kutner Injury Attorneys and Naqvi Injury Law weren’t available for comment late Monday afternoon, but trial lawyer organization Nevada Justice Association President Jason Mills said Uber’s purpose for filing the petition is “embarrassingly transparent.”

“It’s more of Uber protecting itself,” Mills said. “This could make it harder for everyday folks in Nevada to get competent representation.”  “We protect Nevadans that can’t protect themselves from corporations like [Uber],” he said.

Under the proposal, attorneys would not be able to collect a contingency fee, or a percentage of the amount awarded in a civil case, greater than 20 percent of the award.  The cap would apply to all forms of awards, including settlements, arbitration, and judgements.  Currently, there’s no cap on how much attorneys can collect in contingency fees, except in certain circumstances.

The cap would apply to the awarded amount after legal fees have been deducted from the total amount, meaning attorneys will still be reimbursed for actual legal costs, including those incurred by hiring expert witnesses or conducting investigations.

Instead of being paid on an hourly basis, some lawyers are instead paid by contingency fees, meaning the amount they’re paid depends on how much they recover for the plaintiff.  Contingency fees aren’t allowed in criminal cases, but are common in personal injury cases.  Proponents of contingency fees say they improve access for plaintiffs who couldn’t otherwise afford an attorney and give attorneys an incentive to win cases for plaintiffs.