Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Tax Breaks for the “ Contingency” Attorney

There has been some recent talk of providing tax write-off for plaintiff’s attorneys who work on contingency. That is, these attorneys have to front the legal cost for a plaintiff. The AMA and other physician groups have made big opposition to this proposed legislation.

But tax breaks for plaintiff attorneys who work on contingency are much needed.

The issue at hand is that the plaintiff (who alleges to have been harmed in some way) is usually an “average” individual who has to fight a legal battle against a large corporate entity…corporation, hospital, insurance industry, etc. The large corporate entity (the defendant) has disproportionately larger sums of money and other legal resources at their disposal to fight the legal battle.

Having more money makes a HUGE difference in the outcome of litigation. The more money you have, the better your chances of winning. Period.

This monetary disparity between an average individual and a large corporate entity makes the legal system unfair. It places the plaintiff along with their contingency attorney at a disadvantage to win their lawsuit even if they have a good solid case.

Many good and well deserving plaintiff cases lose just because there is not enough money to battle a big corporation or a big hospital.

Sadly, many well-deserving plaintiffs cannot get legal representation because they cannot find an attorney who will take their case on a contingency against a big powerful entity. It involves too much financial risk for an attorney.

In addition contingency attorneys are at a disadvantage because of ways corporations can unethically draw out the legal process making the procedure too expensive for a plaintiff attorney. They squeeze the attorney to financial death.

We need to normalize the disparity of monetary power between plaintiff and defendant to make our justice system work fairly and be ethical. It is in the public’s interest to do so.

Therefore, giving tax breaks to contingency attorneys who take cases against corporate entities is good idea. It will not solve this serious problem, but it will help better balance the monetary disparity that unfortunately erodes the justice system today.

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