Have you been injured in a car accident or slip and fall accident in Florida? If so, you may be wondering how you can afford to hire an attorney to file a personal injury claim or lawsuit. It may surprise you to learn that you might not need to pay any money when you sign an agreement to hire an accident lawyer. That’s because many personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis.
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How Can I Afford to Hire a Florida Injury Lawyer?
Some people do not contact an attorney about injury claims because they worry about the cost of attorneys’ fees. They believe they cannot afford to hire an attorney.
However, most personal injury attorneys in Florida accept accident cases on a contingency fee basis. They also accept other types of injury cases on a contingency fee basis, including dog bites, wrongful death cases, and medical malpractice claims.
A contingency fee is a form of payment for legal services. The attorney agrees to accept a percentage of the recovered award (through a settlement or verdict) as attorneys’ fees. The attorney and the client must agree upon the terms for the contingency fee in writing.
How Does a Contingent Fee Work in a Personal Injury Case?
An injury or accident results in different types of damages.
The damages in a personal injury case can include compensation for:
- Emotional distress
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Mental anguish
- Impairments and disabilities
Your attorney works to obtain the maximum compensation for these damages. The settlement agreement or jury verdict for your case determines the amount of attorneys’ fees.
The attorney receives the settlement proceeds or the proceeds from a jury verdict after your case is closed. He deducts an amount equal to the percentage you agreed to pay for a contingency fee from the settlement proceeds.
For example, if the attorney recovered $500,000 in damages and you agreed to a 30 percent contingency fee, the attorneys’ fees would be $150,000 ($500,000 x 30%).
However, if the attorney fails to recover money for your claim, you do not owe any attorneys’ fees. Therefore, contingency fees are an incentive for an attorney to aggressively pursue the best settlement possible for your case. Higher settlements mean more money for you and the attorney.
How Does an Attorney Decide How Much to Charge for a Contingency Fee?
The percentage for a contingency fee agreement depends on several factors. Factors that impact a contingency fee include:
- A lawyer’s experience and skills
- The attorney’s education and special certifications
- The type of injury case
- The parties involved in the case and the complexity of the case
- The geographical location of the case
- An attorneys success record and trial experience
An attorney may use a sliding contingency fee. The percentage of the fee may be lower if the case settles with the insurance company before a lawsuit is filed. The fee may increase once the lawsuit is filed, but not be as high if the case settles before trial.
Cases involving complicated matters, government entities, and multiple parties may result in higher fees. Generally, attorneys charge reasonable fees to represent clients for claims related to accidents and injuries. There is a lot of competition in Florida, which means most attorneys charge close to the same contingency fees for cases.
Are You Responsible for Payment of the Expenses of the Case?
As the attorney pursues your injury claim, he incurs various costs and expenses related to your case. Expenses and case costs include, but are not limited to:
- The costs to obtain medical records, police reports, and other documents
- Travel fees
- Deposition costs and court reporter fees
- Court filing fees
- Fees paid to expert witnesses and accident investigators
- Copy costs and postage fees
- Costs of preparing for trial
- Fees related to discovery
Complicated cases generally have higher costs and expenses. The costs of a case could total thousands of dollars.
Some attorneys pay these costs as they incur the costs. They reimburse their law firm for the costs from the settlement proceeds after deducting their attorneys’ fees.
Other attorneys may require you to pay these fees and costs as they arise. You may be required to place a deposit with the lawyer for the costs.
An important question to ask an attorney is who is responsible for these costs if the attorney does not win the case. In other words, if you do not receive any money for your injury claim, are you still responsible for paying the costs of the case?
It’s always a good idea to consult a personal injury lawyer after an accident. Be sure you understand the fee agreement before you proceed.