Contingency Fees in a Personal Injury Case in Florida
July 13, 2023 | Sagi Shaked | Personal Injury
After sustaining a personal injury, you face an uncertain future. You might suffer from physical disabilities or develop long-term complications. Worse yet, your injuries might prevent you from working, thereby endangering your financial stability.
When your injuries resulted from someone else’s intentional or negligent actions, you may have a solid legal claim to bring against the at-fault party, but getting injury compensation is not an easy process. You will need to fight an insurance company and may even need to file a lawsuit to recover a fair settlement or damage award.
How a Personal Injury Lawyer Helps You
Injury lawyers have training and experience in tort law and insurance law. As a result, they can do the following:
- Provide legal advice about your claim and the strength of your case
- File insurance claims and overcome denials
- Negotiate with insurance claim adjusters for a fair settlement of your claim
- Prepare and file lawsuits against at-fault parties
- Litigate injury lawsuits, including presenting your case to a jury
Some lawyers even obtain board certification in trial law by passing examinations and earning a reputation among peers for their ethics and professionalism.
In any case, the goal of a good injury lawyer is to take the burden of fighting your case off your shoulders so that you can focus on your health. They will act upon your instructions to fight for the best possible outcome in your case.
How Lawyers Charge for Services
Lawyers for private parties charge for their services. Whether you hire a lawyer to draft a will or fight for injury compensation, you will need to pay legal fees, which take a few different forms. These include:
Lawyers charge flat fees for projects with limited scope. Since the project requires a predictable amount of work, they can quote a flat fee. Some examples include writing a will or filing a corporation. Injury lawyers, however, do not typically charge flat fees.
An hourly fee represents the amount of money a lawyer charges for an hour of work. They often charge hourly fees for open-ended projects: Since the lawyer does not know the amount of work involved, they will charge based on the time they spend on the project. Some examples would include filing a divorce or litigating a contract dispute.
Keep in mind that while some injury lawyers charge an hourly fee, most do not.
Contingency fees are the most common type of legal fee charged by injury lawyers. You calculate the amount of a contingency fee at the end of a case by multiplying your compensation by the percentage quoted.
For example, suppose that you hire an injury lawyer who charges a 35% contingency fee. If the lawyer wins a $100,000 jury award at trial, you will pay $35,000 in legal fees. You’ll only pay a fee if the lawyer recovers money for you; 35% of zero is still zero, after all.
Benefits of Contingency Fees
Contingency fees provide several benefits for accident victims, such as:
- Only paying when the lawyer wins or settles your case
- Having a lawyer screen your case and only accept it if it has merit
- Not paying any upfront fees for the lawyer to start your claim
Lawyers that charge contingency fees understand the difficult financial situation you are placed in following an injury. You likely need medical treatment, but you have limited resources to obtain it. Since you do not pay any upfront fees when hiring a contingency fee lawyer, you can use your income and savings to pay for your medical treatment and living expenses.
One benefit cited by many clients is that the lawyer’s financial interests align with the client’s. In other words, the lawyer earns more money when they recover larger settlements and jury awards. Still, lawyers have an ethical duty to always fight for the best possible outcome, and that duty requires them to put their client’s interests ahead of their own. Thus, you can trust that your lawyer will always fight with your best interests in mind.
Legal Services Covered by Contingency Fees
The contingency fee agreement you sign when you hire a lawyer will outline the services the lawyer will provide. The services typically covered by the fee are as follows:
- Advising you about your rights and the legal strategy you should pursue
- Communicating with you by phone and email to provide case updates
- Gathering medical records, crash reports, witness statements, and other evidence
- Preparing and filing an insurance claim
- Working with a claims adjuster to provide any missing information
- Negotiating with the liable insurer to reach a fair settlement
- Drafting and filing a lawsuit if the insurer refuses to settle
- Filing pre-trial motions to resolve any in-court disputes
- Presenting your evidence to a jury at trial
Your contingency fee will not cover some aspects of your case, so again, you should review your contingency fee agreement to determine exactly what your fee covers. Nevertheless, some typical exclusions include the following:
These litigation expenses are incurred during your case, and your lawyer will typically advance money to cover these expenses and keep your case on track. At the end of your case, you will reimburse your lawyer for any advanced amounts.
A contingency fee will also not cover any appeals, so whether you or the at-fault party files one, you will typically work out a new fee agreement with your lawyer.
Hiring a Miami Personal Injury Lawyer
Most injury lawyers offer a free consultation, during which you should discuss their fees. Lawyers charge different percentages based on many factors, including the difficulty of the case. They may also charge different fees depending on whether the case reaches trial. Make sure you understand all the charges.
When you hire a contingency fee lawyer, Florida law requires them to give you a written contingency fee agreement. Review this agreement carefully and ask the lawyer about any terms you do not understand. You should also ask about litigation costs and other expenses you might need to reimburse. These costs are not covered by the contingency fee, so you should understand the process for approving them.
Contingency fees provide significant benefits to accident victims. Discuss your case with an attorney to learn how the contingency fee system will work for you.