If you find yourself the victim of a personal injury, the law states that you are legally entitled to representation. Consulting with a personal injury attorney on your personal injury case is crucial; a legal professional will have a deeper understanding of your rights, the best way to fight your case, and the next steps to ensure the best outcome for everyone involved. However, for many victims, the prohibitive costs associated with attorneys and legal cases can be intimidating and could be enough to put an individual off seeking experienced qualified assistance.
To help combat this, many attorneys and law firms will offer an alternative solution that can be extremely helpful to those worried about paying their fees. Welcome to the world of contingency.
Do I Need An Attorney?
In the world of YouTube and Google, it can be easy to assume that you may be able to fight a personal injury case independently without a lawyer’s aid. Unless you are a trained attorney yourself, however, this is seriously not advisable.
Lawyers have access to a vast range of knowledge, experience, and case law, which puts them in a perfect position to help you attain the very best results. From experience in dealing with courts and attorneys, to the contacts and abilities to collate witness reports, evidence statements, medical records, and so on, spending your cash on an attorney is an investment if you are serious about winning your case. We have more good news: this doesn’t have to be out of your reach financially.
What Is A Contingent Fee?
In the simplest terms, a contingent fee agreement means that you agree to pay the attorney a percentage of whatever total compensation you receive. The value of this depends mainly on the nature of your case and the size of the compensation you can realistically expect to be awarded. In a wrongful death case that has the potential to grant you millions of dollars, you can expect your lawyer to seek a higher percentage of the final cut – in some cases.
This can be up to a third. This is partly due to the increased experience, resources, and time required in a case like this. A smaller case, perhaps involving two cars and a lower amount of financial reward, will see the percentage reduced in accordance with your expected damages.
In short, a contingent fee means that if you do not win the case, the attorney will not get paid. As a result, it can offer an excellent incentive for the lawyer and a more secure outcome for the client.
How Much Will I Pay?
The amount you pay in contingency fees will depend on the location of the accident and the total figure that is settled. In Florida, attorneys are not permitted to charge more than 33%, or ⅓, of any settlement before a lawsuit.
There are strict rules that surround personal injury contingency fees in Florida, and these include requiring any higher fees to be agreed in court. In general, if the other party’s attorney has not yet filed an answer to the lawsuit, attorneys may charge 33% (or ⅓) for settlements up to one million dollars, 30% of the settlement for figures between one and two million dollars, and 20% of the settlement for an agreement over two million dollars.
Once the other attorney has filed an answer or offered a settlement request, your lawyer may charge higher fees – up to 40% of damages up to $1 million, 30% for settlements between one and two million dollars, and 20% if the agreement is over two million dollars. These higher figures may also be implemented in the time allocated for a response from the other party.
If, however, the other party admits their liability, the costs are reduced. Rather than fighting your case, the court’s role will simply be to determine the amount of damages that are to be awarded to the injured party. In these situations, you may find that the figures charged by your attorney reduce to 33% on amounts up to one million dollars, 20% for one to two million dollar deals, and 15% for anything exceeding this.
Some situations may also see attorneys awarded an additional 5% – this is to cover fees in the event of an appeal, or if further action was required following the judgment. This cost is usually to cover the time of the attorney.
It should be noted that any contract involving contingency fees must contain a cancellation clause; this absolves the client of the requirement to pay any fees to the attorney if they choose to cancel the contract within three business days. However, there is a chance that they will still be expected to pay any expenses already incurred.
So What About Upfront Costs?
Contingent fees help increase the accessibility of legal representation, reducing the upfront costs, which would otherwise be required. It is important to note, however, that you are still likely to incur some upfront fees as part of your case, and you will need to prepare for these.
Common examples include:
- The cost of court filing fees
- The cost of serving a summons or subpoena
- The cost of obtaining any required medical records and police reports
- The fees for a court reporter
- The fees for any expert witnesses your case requires
In some cases, an attorney will add these fees to the percentage they will receive if you are successful. However, this can be a risky strategy for them, and many firms will avoid this to reduce their chances of being out of pocket. As a general rule, the larger the firm, the more likely they will package your fees onto the end result.
How Can We Help?
Here at Page & Eichenblatt, P.A., we have a wealth of experience handling personal injury cases. Our team can help guide you through the process from start to finish and work tirelessly to ensure that you achieve the outcome you desire. Contact our office today for a free consultation, and let us help you achieve the compensation you deserve.