Question: We expect to buy a house, but the seller is making noises about canceling escrow. What we think is happening is he has someone offering more money. If we have to sue, what prevents him from selling anyway? – W.B., Van Nuys Answer: A lis pendens is a legal form you can record in the county records where the property is situated which gives public notice of your claim to title. The expression lis pendens is Latin for “action pending.” This is a key way to try to prevent the seller from selling out from under you, but it requires that you also file a lawsuit which claims a right to title. Note that there are certain requirements for the lis pendens to be valid. Thus, get thee to a qualified attorney, soonest. Q: My sister’s husband was run over and killed. It is a devastating loss, and she is grief stricken. The lawyer tells her that she can pursue a wrongful death action but is not entitled to “pain and suffering.” This can’t be right, is it? The rationale for the percentage increasing once a trial date has been set is that the lawyer probably will have even more work to do. The bottom line is you are not stuck with one-third or 40 percent once trial is set. I have heard higher, but I have more often heard lower. Keep scouting around, and do not be shy. If you have a strong case, with the potential for significant recovery, it stands to reason that one or more lawyers will be willing to work out an alternative arrangement with you. Ron Sokol is a Manhattan Beach-based attorney with 29 years of experience who has arbitrated and mediated many cases. His column appears each Tuesday. E-mail questions and comments to him at [email protected] This column is a summary of the law, and not a substitute for legal consultation on any particular case.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWhicker: Clemson demonstrates that it’s tough to knock out the champ – G.M., Hawthorne A: It is true that “pain and suffering” is not supposed to be a component of recoverable damages in a wrongful death action. In fact, that is part of the standard jury instruction. But, your sister can recover damages for “reasonable compensation for the loss of love, companionship, comfort, affection, society, solace or moral support (and any loss of the enjoyment of sexual relations).” How a jury differentiates between that measure of damages and pain and suffering is not something I can quite explain. Other damages also are recoverable in a wrongful death case, such as funeral and burial expenses, and loss of financial support. Q: We are scouting for a good lawyer to handle a matter on a contingent (percentage) basis. So far each one quoted one-third of the recovery, up to 40 percent depending upon certain circumstances (like a trial date being set). Are those industry-wide percentages that simply are not flexible? – K.B., El Segundo A: Those percentages are typical, in my experience, but they are negotiable. In fact, you are supposed to be told they are negotiable. Some lawyers will take less depending upon how hungry they are, or if the case resolves without having to sue, or if the case resolves in a limited period of time (eg., six months).