How much does it cost to hire a Personal Injury Attorney (Clearwater Florida)

How much does it cost to hire a Personal Injury Attorney in Florida

 

An attorney or Law firm charge fees for the Legal services either on a per hour basis or Contingent fee basis, though some also charge a ‘fixed’ fees. Most of the attorneys or Law firms who handle personal injury, medical malpractice or workers compensation cases work on a Contingent fee basis.

 What is Contingent fee?

It is an arrangement between a client and the attorney (or law firm) who will be legally representing the client, in which the client agrees to pay a pre-decided fixed share (percentage) of damages awarded to the client if the result of the litigation is in favor of the client.

The Contingency fee agreement has to be signed by the attorney (or law firm) and the client they are going to represent, prior to taking up the case. The percentage of the recovery to be kept by the attorney (or law firm), the costs that will be deducted from the recovery and in what ways will they be deducted, all of this needs to be stated in the agreement.

Normally, no fee or expenses incurred in the suit is paid in advanced by the client, if the attorney (or law firm) works on contingent fee basis. (Some attorneys or law firms might charge for the costs associated with the case like medical reports, filing fee etc., even if working on contingent fee basis)

There are certain Rules of Conduct prescribed by the Florida Bar, which includes the rules for charging fees and costs for Legal services. The rules contain certain limitations that the Florid Bar imposes on charging Contingent fee in cases of Personal Injury, Medical Malpractice (keep in mind medical malpractice caps) and other tort cases.

Limitations

  • 33.33% of any recovery till $1 million – If the case is settled prior to filing of an answer or demand for appointment of arbitrators or if a lawsuit has already been filed, as late as the time till defense files an answer or makes a demand for appointment of arbitrators.
  • 40% of any recover till $1 million – If the case is settled after the lawsuit has been filed and the defense has filed an answer or makes a demand of appointment of arbitrators or, if neither has an answer been filed nor demand for appointment of arbitrators is made, the expiration of the time period provided for such action, through the entry of judgment. Keep in mind, that your attorney will ask for your approval when filing suit.
  • 30% of any recovery between $1-2million (In the first two scenarios) – If the case is settled, or a favorable verdict is reached in trial.
  • 20% of any recovery above $2 million (In the first two scenarios) – If the case is settled, or a favorable verdict is reached in trial.
  • 33.33% any recovery till $1 million, 20% of recovery between $1-2 million and 15% of  recovery above $2 million – If liability is admitted at the time of filing answers and the case goes on trial only for deciding on the damages.
  • 5% additional on any recovery– If the case is appealed / requirement of action for recovery of the Judgment / Post-Judgment Relief.

Charging fee above the standard is considered to be ‘excessive’. However, if a client wishes to pay a greater fee, they can approach the court before filing the case or during filing their case for removal of the fee limitation.

Additional Limitations for Medical Malpractice Cases

There are additional limitations placed on how much a Lawyer can charge for medical malpractice cases by Article I, section 26 of the Florida Constitution.

  • Victims of Medical Malpractice are entitled to no less than 70% of first $250,000 in damages ( excluding the costs )
  • Victims of Medical Malpractice are entitled to 90%  of all damages above $ 2,50,000 (excluding the costs)

If an attorney is representing a client of Medical Malpractice, he is bound by the rules of conduct to first furnish a copy of the constitution’s fee limitations, before taking up the case. In addition to this an attorney is required to inform the client that these limitations will be in effect, till the client waives the constitutional limitation of Medical Malpractice fee and the attorney should also advise the client that they can consult with other attorney(s) before waiving the right or can also ask for a hearing before a judge for explaining the waiver.

If the client opts for waiving the constitutional right, the client is entitled to receive a detailed waiver form from the attorney.

Fee Division

If a personal injury or property damage (resulting from wrongful conduct) case is being handled by two attorneys, then the attorney with primary responsibility is entitled to no less than 75% of the total fee while the attorney with secondary responsibility is entitled to no more than 25% of the total fee.  In a case where both the attorneys take equal responsibility of the case, the court will decide on how the fee will be split.

When a case of a client ends, an attorney is required to furnish itemized bill of the costs and expenses incurred in the particular case and if the case has been won then the fee too. The client needs to sign the bill statement along with all the attorneys who represented the client in the case.

Points to remember –

  • It is not always possible for a lawyer to give you a complete estimate while taking up your case.
  • The associated costs involved in a case are uncontrollable as they depend on a variety of factors.  Extra costs may be necessary to get your case settled or to trial.
  • Some attorneys charge a ‘retainer’ or ‘advance’  for costs involved even though they might be working on Contingent fee basis, these ‘retainer’ or ‘advance’ can be refundable or non-refundable.

When hiring an attorney you should first meet them and get to know how they work.  It is important to establish a relationship with them, because they will be taking case of an aspect of your life for a few months to years.  If you’d like to know more about attorneys fees, or if you have been involved in an car accident please call mark today 727-386-9677 or go to www.1forjustice.com