Whether you have heard them on TV, the internet, or over the radio, you are definitely familiar with the language in some ads for legal services. You know such promises as:
- You do not pay unless you win;
- No legal fees until we win your case; and,
- Many others.
These statements might seem too good to be true, but the fact is that they all describe a common billing method for attorneys who handle accident claims — contingency fee billing agreements. As a potential client, it is important to recognize the key benefit. These arrangements are a way to get legal help from a Miami personal injury lawyer without paying up front, since you might not otherwise be able to afford it. Still, you should need to understand how they work, so some answers to common questions may be useful.
What does “contingent” mean? It means that your responsibility to pay for legal fees is conditional upon winning your case, i.e. your obligation is contingent upon the outcome. The fees are deducted from your compensation when you receive it, and you will not have to pay anything if you do not recover monetary damages.
Will the fee agreement be in writing? Under the Florida Rules of Professional Conduct, any contingency fee agreement must be in writing and signed by the client. The contract must include some basic information, such as:
- The method for determining the fees, usually as a percentage of your compensation;
- How other expenses are deducted from your financial award; and,
- Other relevant details provided by the rules.
What kinds of cases work on a contingency fee basis? Most personal injury attorneys bill their clients according to a contingency arrangement, typically in claims based upon:
- Car, truck, and motorcycle crashes;
- Pedestrian and bicycle accidents;
- Dog bites;
- Dangerous, defective products;
- Slips and fall incidents and other accidents on property;
- Medical malpractice; and,
- Many others.
How much is the percentage of the contingency fee? The average amount is usually around 33-40% of the total recovery in your case, but it will be stated in your written agreement. Note that there may be a different percentage that applies at various stages of your case. For instance, the number will be lower if your case settles quickly; it is typically higher when your matter goes to trial.
Are there any other costs? Yes, most attorneys charge for the costs they incur and advance on your behalf. Examples include costs for obtaining your medical records, court filing fees, expenses for court reporters, and copying costs. Plus, you are usually responsible for paying the fees of any experts retained by your lawyer, such as medical experts, accident reconstruction specialists, economists, and others.
Contact Miami Personal Injury Attorney for More Information
At Gerson & Schwartz, PA, our lawyers handle a wide range of accident cases on a contingency basis. We are happy to explain additional details and answer any other questions you might have about the arrangement. Plus, we offer a free consultation to meet you and learn more about your circumstances. Please contact our offices in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or West Palm Beach to set up your appointment with a skilled personal injury attorney today.
(image courtesy of Dylan Gillis)