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How Much Does a Personal Injury Lawyer Make in Miami, Florida?

How Much Does a Personal Injury Lawyer Make in Miami, Florida?

Unlike most other lawyers, Miami personal injury lawyers don’t charge by the “billable hour.” Instead, they use the contingency fee system to determine how much you must pay for their services. 

For this reason, it is impossible to predict in advance exactly how much money a Miami personal injury lawyer will make representing you. Continue reading for a thorough explanation of how personal injury lawyers in Miami, Florida, are paid so that you can know what to expect for your case.

What Is a Contingency Fee?

A contingency fee is a pre-agreed percentage of your total recovery. Regardless of whether you win a courtroom verdict or an out-of-court settlement, your legal fees will equal a percentage of this amount. If you win $40,000, for example, and your contingency fee rate is 35%, your legal fees will amount to $40,000 X 35% = $14,000.

How Much Do You Pay if You Lose?

If you lose, meaning that your total recovery is $0, the same type of math applies as in the foregoing example. If your contingency fee amount is 35%, for example, and your recovery is zero, then your legal fees will amount to 0 X 35% = $0. In other words, you only pay if you win.

How Will Your Lawyer Handle Case Expenses?

Every case requires either the lawyer or the plaintiff to pay certain third-party expenses. Most personal injury lawyers will pay these fees themselves and deduct them from the amount of any settlement or verdict that the plaintiff receives. If your lawyer offers you this deal, you won’t pay any case expenses unless you win your claim. Other lawyers will charge case expenses (but not legal fees) as they arise. 

Common case expenses include:

  • Lawsuit filing fees with the court clerk. Remember that you might file a lawsuit for strategic reasons even if you still hope to settle. You might want access to the pretrial discovery process, for example, so you can gather evidence to use at the settlement table.
  • Service of process (delivery of the summons and a copy of the complaint to the defendant by a neutral third party). This service typically runs from $50 to $100.
  • Postage and copying fees.
  • Arbitration or mediation, if you select one of these options. Arbitrators and mediators tend to charge by the hour.
  • The cost of taking depositions from the opposing party’s witnesses. This may require travel expenses, office space rental, and equipment rental
  • The cost of court reporting at depositions and/or videotaping of the depositions
  • The cost of any investigator you need to help perform a case investigation.
  • The cost of expert witnesses, which depends on the witnesses themselves.

These items, whatever their amount, will come out of your recovery unless you pay them in advance. Your lawyer will use it to reimburse themself for expenses they have already paid.

Florida Caps on Contingency Fees

Florida imposes the following limitations on the amount of the contingency fee that a lawyer may charge you for a personal injury claim:

  • One-third of any amount up to $1 million if you settle before filing a lawsuit, before the opposing party files an answer to your complaint.
  • 40% if you win a verdict or if you settle after the opposing party files an answer.
  • 30% of any amount between $1 million and $2 million, whether by settlement or by verdict.
  • 20% of any amount above $2 million, whether by settlement or by verdict. 

Keep in mind that the foregoing is an oversimplified version of Florida’s limitations on contingency fees. See the Florida Bar website for a more thorough treatment of these limitations.

A Good Lawyer Is Worth Every Dime of Their Fee – and Then Some

Overall, 30% to 40% of your total recovery may sound like a lot of money in legal fees. It can be well worth it, however, if your lawyer drastically increases the amount of your recovery. It is essential that you choose the right personal injury lawyer. Once you do, the chances are good that the benefits they provide will be more than enough to pay for their services. 

Contact Our Personal Injury Law Firm in Miami, FL

If you’ve been injured in an accident in Miami, FL and need legal help, contact our Miami personal injury lawyers at Shaked Law Personal Injury Lawyers to schedule a free consultation.