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I spoke to a lawyer and got a consultation a while back because my apartment complex had me sign a 4 month lease which I read and agreed to, then on move in day they told me "you have to sign a 12 month lease or you cant move in." the lawyer reviewed my original lease and determined there was no such thing mentioned and I could sue the complex and recoup my legal fees if I win. But here's the thing: I'm low income and if I take that $2.5K risk to retain the lawyer and lose for any reason, that's really going to hurt. It seems to me that by forcing me into this situation where I need to put $2.5K at risk just to pursue justice, the complex is essentially causing damage in the form of serious financial risk.

Could someone explain why I could or could not reasonably ask the court to award me damages, in addition to legal fees paid if I take this to court and win?

I'm in Florida.

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Because your legal fees and contract damages are not "in addition to" your risk; they are your risk.

If you pay the retainer and lose, you don't lose anything more than the retainer and damages. If you pay the retainer and win, you don't win anything more than the retainer and damages.

The only kind of argument I can see here is that you're incurring some kind of psychic cost by enduring the uncertainty surrounding the litigation, but I can't remember ever seeing a case -- in Florida or elsewhere -- in which the court recognized taking on risk as a compensable harm, especially in a contract case, where damages are much more limited than in other kinds of cases. Risk is just a necessary feature of an adversarial legal system.

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Typically Lawyer Fees are factored into the suit as lawyer fees plus the damages requested. Typically this will mean that if you win the lawyer will show their lawyer the bill for the case and the money you are paid is reimbursed.

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