Faced with staggering financial losses in the form of medical bills and other damages, personal injury victims are usually hesitant to hire a lawyer in Florida. It only makes sense to avoid another financial pressure with so many on your tail as-is, however, getting a Florida auto accident lawyer on the case is not as troublesome as you may think.
Lawyers realize that their clients need the financial space to get patched up and meet their other unavoidable expenses, thus, most of them won’t bug you about their payments. Payment plans are highly versatile and flexible, allowing you to approach a personal injury law firm without fear.
With so many convenient payment solutions at your disposal, nothing is stopping you from getting deep into this legal tussle and claiming your rightful compensation. Do not worry yourself with thoughts of how much does a personal injury lawyer cost in Florida.
It is only through proper legal counsel that accident victims can even hope to secure a decent settlement with the at-fault party’s insurance company for their accident claims, or if need be, before a judge and jury.
Thus delaying matters in accident claims or going on your own are not viable options.
This article will lay down all the payment details of hiring personal injury lawyers in Florida.
Automobile accidents are pretty common on the streets of Florida and they can get pretty gruesome as well. Being an accident victim is a hard pill to swallow: only the bravest of hearts can withstand the economic and non-economic pressures associated with such events such as inflated medical bills and injuries.
Acute and permanent injuries are a common concern, so are the inflated medical bills associated with these damages. Moreover, you've got other expenses necessitated by the crash, repair costs, and loss of income (both short-term and long-term) to deal with.
In short: the burden is already too much as is.
However, getting a lawyer on your side will not only double up your chances of securing a fair settlement but will also keep you immune from the many traps and pitfalls in this business. The insurance adjuster will try to downplay your sufferings and get you to agree with things from their perspective – if you fold, you lose!
If financial burden due to medical bills and other damages is your only worry about getting accident attorneys on board then you can shrug off your concerns and be bold. A team of highly competent and professional attorneys will see to it that justice is done and that you get maximum compensation for monetary losses, physical injuries, brain injuries, property damage, loss of life, loss of enjoyment, loss of companionship, and other types of damages.
Most personal injury lawyers offer great flexibility in the payment solutions, so you will come across someone willing to work on terms acceptable to you.
Legal fees are complicated at first but if you dissect them one by one, you'll find common patterns and certain repetitions. If you look enough, you will come across attorneys willing to work without upfront payments or only demand payment for the hours put into your work.
Thus, depending on your financial state, the foundation of your case, and your preferences, you will find lawyers offering great flexibility.
Here are some common patterns or types of personal injury attorney fees:
Fixed fee contracts for personal injury cases are rare but possible. Usually, lawyers average out the costs associated with a certain one-time service and charge a flat lump-sum for their efforts. You can expect such fees for all forms of uncomplicated situations and cases.
However, the same may be true in personal injury cases as well if your situation is not very challenging. But we’ll be honest here: this is rarely the case because personal injury situations demand a highly strategic approach and these cases are not as simple as they first appear.
Not only can there be multiple parties at fault but assigning the fault itself can be a matter of debate. Thus if you do come across a personal injury lawyer demanding a flat fee and you feel like your chances at winning are pretty fair, then you can go for it.
However, as mentioned earlier, personal injury lawyers rarely demand flat fees (however, they may do so for certain services related to your case).
The more likely scenario for your personal injury case will be to come across a lawyer demanding that you pay by the hour. Such demands are not without reason: your case will require a great amount of laboring and the lawyer may as well be unable to get anyone else's work done while they're busy with yours.
Usually, it is the most competent lawyers who work with hourly payments. The rate of fee is not usually inflated, contrary to what most believe. Lawyers are legally required to keep their payment demands within reason lest they be sanctioned by the bar for ethical violations.
However, you will have to decide (beforehand) the hourly rate for your work and other arrangements pertaining to your case. The rate will depend on the complexity of your case, the financial stakes, the level of expertise required, and the reputation of the said lawyer among several things.
Once you’ve set an hourly rate, all that remains to be done is to deposit a sum in the lawyer’s trust account and release fractions of the payment according to the number of hours spent on your work. This way, the lawyer will get the funds according to the time and effort they put into your work.
According to the contract, if the deposit runs dry, you’ll either have to make another deposit or shift to a fixed monthly billing cycle. This payment plan is only preferable when you’re certain that your case has a solid foundation and that your financial condition is stable enough to hire the services of a lawyer.
The most prevalent form of payment contract for Florida personal injury lawsuits is the contingency fee contract. This arrangement appeases most clients because it involves no upfront fees and it minimizes the financial burden on the client which is a welcome relief from the pressures of medical expenses.
The idea is simple: you bring the case, if it is promising enough to pursue, personal injury firms will take upon it, fight for you, and then win for you. Once you've claimed your winnings either from settlement negotiations with the insurance company or from a court of law, you'll then have to pay your lawyers for their services.
This payment will be a predefined fraction of your winnings, thus the more you get, the more your attorneys will earn out of it. If you don’t win, you won’t have to pay the lawyers for their services. Most people find the plan suitable because you won’t have any obligations if things don’t work out, and because you won’t have to pay from your pocket.
However, critics have spit-fired on the plan several times. They believe that the lawyer fees in the contingency fee basis agreement in Florida are inflated. True, somewhat but there is one aspect that these critics fail to notice: not only is the lawyer placing their payment on the line (they may have to get off with nothing at all) but there are no commitments from your side.
If and when you are awarded fair compensation for your troubles, you’ll have to cut a slice from your winnings for the lawyers who made it happen. There’s a bright side to it: since their payment is at stake here, the lawyers will do their best to ensure that you get the maximum return possible, thus ensuring a decent payment for themselves too.
The percentage for your lawyers will depend heavily on the amount of work needed for your case in Florida, what stage you’re at, and much more. Usually, the contingency fee percentage falls between 10-45%, with 33.33% being the average percentage for most cases.
However, if your situation demands extra work and vigilance, you can expect to pay 40% or more.
And then there are the costs associated with the case which will not be covered under this percentage payment. These include expert witness fees, filing fees, getting documents copied, and so on. You’ll have to decide beforehand how you’ll handle these charges.
Some lawyers may demand an advance on their fees to secure their final payment, and they’d be well in their rights to do so. But other than that, there are costs associated with any case which are not covered by the legal fees of a lawyer.
As mentioned earlier, even in the contingency fee arrangement, paying for witness prep, filing a civil lawsuit, getting documents copied, and so on will not fall under the umbrella of the fee arrangement.
Costs or cost deposits cover all the miscellaneous stuff needed to be handled as part of any case. These expenses are separate from the legal fees of your lawyer and you will have to decide with them how you wish to handle the charges.
You may make an initial deposit, known as a cost deposit to compensate the lawyer for these expenses, and if some is left over after the case, they will refund that amount to you. The amount is held in a trust account and you will be able to review all details with complete transparency.
Thus, you can rest assured that only the costs will be deducted from this deposit.
The lawyer’s availability may also not be for free, especially in special matters. This is not the case with all personal injury law firms, but some do charge extra for simply being there for you. The retainers may be refundable or non-refundable, in the latter case, you’ll have to give your consent for it to apply.
In several cases, the lawyer you hired to represent you may need a helping hand and hence hire a secondary lawyer from another law firm. If this happens, you’ll have two lawyers to pay but only the fixed sum you agreed upon to begin with.
Remember, if your lawyer hires another one, you will not be liable to pay extra.
Usually, the primary lawyer should get a minimum of 75% from the predetermined legal fee, while the second one can claim no more than 25%. Of course, there can be situations demanding an exception here and you need not get involved if that happens.
For instance, if both lawyers participated equally in making your case a success, they’ll have to approach the judge to each get fairly compensated for their efforts.
Another challenging scenario may appear if you were working under an hourly-based agreement. In this case, you'll have to divide the sum based on the work put forward by each side. But it is best to have the lawyers draft up a mutual agreement as to how they would like to be paid.
Okay, the stuff we said about people deterred by inflated legal fees was not completely false – lawyer fees can get unreasonable at times. However, a decent law firm will never charge you more than what their efforts are worth.
In any case, you’d want to keep the legal fees within reason for your personal injury claim.
Computing the fees is not straightforward in Florida because your lawyer will never be able to predict with certainty what the other side will be busy doing. Moreover, if there are any details related to the case that may not be immediately apparent, you must share those with your lawyer at the moment rather than having them learn later on.
Be straightforward about your financial liberty. Let your lawyer know how much you're willing to invest in your case, and also ask for their estimate. These discussions are of course limited to the legal fees and not the costs associated with the case – you can't negotiate on those because they are under third-party influence and thus, out of your control.
Usually, costs are dealt with an initial deposit and the unused amount is returned to you after the case is over. Also, your lawyer may demand a small advance on the fees, be sure to ask if the advance is refundable or not.
Don’t hesitate to ask any questions. The lawyer may accidentally call the advance a retainer, be sure to clear this up: is it an advance or a retainer – they are different. Also, be sure to ask if the amount will be refunded to you after the case is over.
Try to seek a reasonable payment tier but if your case demands more effort, you’ll have to agree to slightly higher fees. Be sure to consult with a couple of lawyers before finalizing a decision and if the payment is substantial and there is no way to avoid it, you should seek monthly payments to avoid a huge financial burden at once.
Of course, you can avoid the hassle altogether with a contingency fee plan but if you don’t like a percentage deducted from your winnings, then you’ll have to go the extra mile to keep the legal fees within reason.
Sometimes, the personal injury settlements will settle outside the court in Florida. If the insurance company of the at-fault party is willing to cooperate and offering you a fair sum under the health insurance policy that accounts for your financial and non-economic losses, you can choose to end matters there and then. In such cases, where the situation cools off without going to a court of law, your lawyer can claim no more than a third of your winnings.
However, if matters do go to court, then the lawyer will be in a better position to demand a higher percentage before the judge. Typically, lawyers in Florida will ask for 40% of your winnings, depending on the effort and time it took them to win it for you. However, the payment may be less than this for simple cases.
Going through an automobile crash in Florida can be highly traumatic and financially bothersome. But you need not worry about the payment, because at the VG Law Firm, we don't demand a penny upfront. We realize that the accident has put you under a mounting financial burden and we only intend to ease things for you, not complicate them further.
Our team of competent Florida personal injury lawyers will represent you on all levels of the process and ensure that you get the best settlement offer for your sufferings. Having appease clients for years now, the attorneys at the VG Law Firm are more than ready to face even the most daunting challenges in the personal injury realm.
The consultation is free, so don’t hesitate to reach out!