Financial Assistance to Client
Opinion prohibits a lawyer from advancing the cost of a rental car to a client even though the car will be used, on occasion, to transport the client to medical examinations.
Editor's note: See Rule 1.8 (e)(1) for amendments in 2003 that supersede this opinion.
Attorney A represents Client on a personal injury claim. Client requires medical treatment as a result of the injuries he sustained but lacks a means of transportation to and from medical appointments. May Attorney A advance money to client to pay for a rental car?
No. Rule 1.8(e) prohibits a lawyer from providing financial assistance to a client in connection with pending or contemplated litigation "except the lawyer may advance court costs and expenses of litigation, including medical examinations and costs of obtaining and presenting evidence, provided the client remains ultimately liable for such costs and expenses." A transportation expense that directly arises from the prosecution of a client's case may be advanced to a client. In general, however, money for a rental car to be used over an extended period of time is a living expense even if the rental car may be used, on occasion, to transport a client to medical exams and treatment necessitated by the injury giving rise to the litigation. A lawyer may advance money to a client only to pay for the actual costs of transportation associated with the litigation or medical examinations. Such expenses may include an occasional cab or bus fare and, when reasonable in light of the distance to be traveled, the cost of a rental car for one trip or the cost of an airplane fare.