Without having any experience in the area, it can be difficult to understand how much personal injury attorneys charge. In Florida and many other states in the US, personal injury attorneys typically work on a contingency fee. Here is what you need to know about legal fees and costs surrounding personal injury cases in Florida.
How Much Do Personal Injury Attorneys Charge?
When obtaining legal representation relating to personal injury, one needs to understand what a contingency fee means. A contingency fee is a fee that is payable to the attorney for services provided, however, it is only paid if there is a favourable outcome of the case. This means that the attorney will only be paid for their services if the case is won or a settlement is reached, and fees also differ depending on the stage and difficulty of the client’s case.
This fee can be deducted from the amount that the client is awarded in the case of a settlement or if the case goes to trial, it will be deducted from the damages that the client is awarded by a jury when the case is won. If the client is not awarded a settlement fee or damages from the trial, then the attorney will not collect any fees.
Percentage of Contingency Fee
Typically, the standard agreement is that the attorney charges around a third of the settlement or damage awarded. It can be anywhere between 33% and 40% depending on each individual case with regards to a private defendant and sometimes even fixed at 25% when dealing with a government entity. Some attorneys work on a sliding scale to determine the fee. Sliding scale arrangements usually provide for a smaller fee if the case is settled early on, and provides for a larger fee as the case progresses. This is to provide for the amount of work that the attorney needs to put in to finalize the case.
Costs and Expenses
These charges are often overlooked or confused by clients and can amount to a large percentage of the final fee that is deducted from a settlement or award depending on the case. Over and above the fee charged by an attorney, the client will also typically be charged for costs and expenses covered by the attorney in finalizing the case. These charges may include (but are not limited to) records and reports required by the attorney, administrative costs (such as filing, postage, transcripts, and exhibits) as well as fees for expert witnesses and investigators.
Your personal injury attorney will usually receive the settlement or awarded amount and the firm’s accounting department will provide you with an itemized list of charges and expenses before paying out your share to you. This is standard practice and should not be a cause of concern as long as you are represented by a reputable attorney and/or law firm. The money by Florida law is typically put into a client interest on legal trust account (IOLTA) as the money is the client’s and not the attorney’s. From there, moneys are disbursed.