Personal Injury Video Law Tip
“No, it will not cost you any money to bring an accident case, most personal injury attorney’s work on a contingency, which is approved by the Florida Supreme Court. What that means is, the attorney only gets paid if you get paid. The attorney gets paid a proportion percentage of any money that you collect in the negligence cause of action.” – Bill Abel
Additional Information about Real Costs of Attorney’s fees in Florida Injury Case
This is a question that many clients have but feel uncomfortable asking. It is an important question that should be understood at the time the attorney is retained.
You will not have out-of-pocket costs or need to make an upfront payment to your injury attorney. But, your attorney fees and costs to litigate the case will be deducted from any settlement you receive at the end of your case. In Florida, your attorney receives a percentage based upon whether the case is settled presuit or during litigation. Below is an example of how attorney’s fees and costs are deducted from a presuit settlement:
$120,000 Total Settlement
– $39,600 Attorney fees 33% of total settlement under Standard Florida Contingency Fee Contract
$80,400 Total to client before expenses
– $5,000 for expenses (miscellaneous costs, copies, subpoenas and expert witness fees)
– $15,000 for outstanding medical bills
$60,400 Net Settlement to client after paying attorney fees, costs and outstanding medical bills
In this example we used a total settlement amount for a Florida injury case of $120,000, and since the case was settled presuit, the attorney fees were set at thirty-three (33%) percent, totaling $39,600. If the cost of the case were $5,000 for items like copies, subpoenas, and expert witnesses, and the outstanding medical bills were $15,000, the client would net $60,400. If you lose your case you do not pay the attorney anything. You would not pay any attorney fees and you would not pay any of the cost the attorney paid while working on your case. You would still be responsible for your medical bills and you would have to work out an arrangement with your doctors.
Specific costs (percentages) you pay out of any settlement you win varies – get the facts below
In personal injury cases, lawyers are permitted to receive payment “contingent” upon recovering money for the client. This is different than many areas of law where lawyers charge by the hour (ie., business litigation or divorce cases) or charge per transaction or event (ie., real estate closing or some types of criminal matters). There are a few reasons that lawyers may receive payment contingent upon receiving money in personal injury cases.
Primarily, the Florida Legislature and Florida Bar have decided that people who are injured may not be able to afford a lawyer to protect their rights. The reasoning goes that if an injured person pays the attorney at the end of the case based upon the money received in the case, then there will not be any financial barriers for injured people being compensated for their injuries.
The Florida Supreme Court and the Florida Bar have created a standard Contingency Fee Contract used in personal injury cases. The typical personal injury case permits the lawyer to receive thirty-three percent (33%) of any settlement obtained prior to suit being filed and forty percent (40%) after suit is filed, if liability is disputed (meaning that the at fault party claims they did not cause the accident). If the at fault party admits in their Answer that they caused the accident, then the attorney will be entitled to thirty-three percent (33%).
There are a few limitations on the standard percentages attorneys may receive when being compensated under a personal injury contingency fee contract. Specifically, if the amount the attorney obtains for the client is greater than one million dollars, the percentage the attorney is entitled to can decrease to as low as twenty percent (20%), depending upon the amount of the settlement. Additionally, if the at fault party is a government entity, the attorney fees are limited to twenty-five (25%) of the total settlement amount (which cannot exceed $200,000).
Another area that affects the total amount the client receives are the costs associated with litigating the case. The attorney in a typical personal injury case fronts the cost of the litigation. However, when a case settles the cost are subtracted from the client’s portion of the settlement. The costs include expenses such as fees for court reports, copies, expert witnesses etc.
The bottom line is that the client does have to pay any money to bring a personal injury lawsuit, but all of the attorney fees and costs to litigate the case will reduce the amount of money the client ultimately receives.
Personal injury law video number 100005: Will I have to pay to hire a Personal Injury Attorney for my Florida Accident Case?