Personal injury lawyers, like everyone, get paid for their services. But injury lawyers also understand the health and financial situation you face. You have mounting bills, but your injuries may stop you from earning a living.
As a result, personal injury lawyers often bill a contingent fee. This fee allows you to hire high-quality legal representation for your case without risking your health or finances.
Here is an overview of the cost of hiring a personal injury attorney in Miami and how contingent fees work.
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Different types of lawyers bill clients differently. A litigator usually bills an hourly fee since the lawyer will often face an unpredictable amount of work preparing a case for trial.
Transactional lawyers, like corporate lawyers and estate lawyers, often bill a flat fee. Unlike litigation, preparing articles of incorporation will usually require a predictable amount of work.
The State Bar of Florida limits the types of cases where a lawyer can charge a contingent fee. Divorce lawyers and criminal defense lawyers cannot bill clients based on the outcome of their cases. But injury lawyers almost always work on a contingency fee basis to handle your injury case.
Since Florida uses no-fault auto insurance, your first source of compensation after a car accident will often come from your auto insurer. Many lawyers do not handle no-fault claims unless you also have a claim against the at-fault driver.
Your no-fault benefits only cover 80% of your medical expenses and 60% of your lost wages. This leaves little or nothing for a lawyer.
How Contingent Fees Work
After a car accident, slip and fall accident, or other preventable accident, you will likely consider hiring a lawyer. Injury lawyers represent accident victims all of the time. They also know that most injured clients must commit their financial resources to their medical treatment and cannot pay for a lawyer out-of-pocket.
Rather than billing at the beginning of a case or while working on a case, an injury lawyer does not bill a contingent fee until the end of the case. This happens because the lawyer bases the amount of the fee on the outcome of the case.
When a lawyer bills a contingent fee, the lawyer agrees to take part in the settlement or damage award the lawyer obtains for you. A typical contingent fee represents a percentage of the compensation you receive. An injury lawyer might charge a contingent fee of between 33% to 40% to represent you in your injury case.
Contingent fees provide accident victims with several benefits:
No Upfront Cost
The lawyer does not get paid until you get paid. The lawyer will start working on your case without any upfront charges.
To hire a contingent fee lawyer, you will typically sign a:
- Contingent fee agreement
- Power of attorney
- HIPAA waiver
These documents will allow the lawyer to gather police reports, medical records, and medical bills for your case.
No Fee If You Lose
If you lose, the lawyer does not receive any fee. Suppose that you agree to pay a 33% contingent fee to your lawyer. If you receive $0 in compensation, the lawyer receives 33% of $0.
You Keep the Bulk of Your Compensation
The State Bar of Florida presumes a contingent fee of up to 33 1/3% for pre-lawsuit work is fair. It also presumes a contingent fee of up to 40% is fair if you need to file a lawsuit. This means that either way, most of your compensation will go to you rather than the lawyer.
The Lawyer Has an Incentive
Since the lawyer receives a percentage of your compensation in legal fees, they receive more if you receive more compensation. Thus, the lawyer’s incentives align with your interests because you both want to maximize the compensation you receive.
Other Costs to Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer
You should review a lawyer’s contingency fee agreement carefully before you hire them. Most lawyers include all other costs you might incur during the representation.
The most common cost you will pay on top of the legal fees is litigation expenses. Litigation expenses include fees for:
- Court filings
- Court reporters
- Process servers
- Expert witnesses
Normally, the lawyer will pay these costs on your behalf during the case. But when the case ends, you will need to reimburse the lawyer for any expenses incurred.
You should review the fee agreement, so you understand how the lawyer will get your approval for these costs and how the lawyer gets reimbursed at the end of the case. In particular, discuss with the lawyer whether you will need to pay for litigation costs if you lose your case.
Services Included With Your Legal Fees
Before you hire a lawyer, you should talk to the lawyer about what services the lawyer will provide for your legal fee. In most cases, your legal fee will include:
- Advice and counsel from the lawyer in person and by phone
- Preparation and filing an insurance claim
- Negotiating with the insurer
- Filing a lawsuit against the at-fault party
- Gathering evidence and preparing for trial
- Trying the case before a judge or jury
On the other hand, most contingent fees do not cover an appeal if you lose at trial. This means that if you lose, you will need to hire an appeal lawyer or sign a new contingent fee agreement with the injury lawyer to handle your appeal.
Hiring a Contingent Fee Lawyer
During your free consultation, you should discuss fees with the injury lawyer. You need to know how much the lawyer will cost before hiring them.
You should ask for a copy of the lawyer’s contingency fee agreement. Under the Rules Regulating the Florida Bar, lawyers and clients can only agree to a contingent fee in writing. This gives you the time and opportunity to review the agreement before signing it. To discuss hiring a contingent fee lawyer to represent you in your personal injury case, contact today the Shaked Law Personal Injury Lawyers for a free consultation.