Florida Personal Injury - How does my lawyer get paid?
After an accident, you may be looking to hire a personal injury attorney in order to legally protect yourself. However, you may also be wondering how you will pay them. This guide will explain how a personal injury attorney is paid.
Retainer agreementsWhen you decide to hire an attorney, he or she will first have you sign what is known as a retainer agreement. This document lays out the terms of hiring the attorney and should include a statement of your rights as a client. This includes your right to know everything that is going on, and their right to act on your behalf. Furthermore, it often includes a contingency agreement, which means that you pay nothing unless you win your case or make a recovery. Once the case is resolved or settled, the attorney is then paid the agreed upon percentage that was laid out in the retainer agreement. The percentage is based on the stage of the case or claim and other relevant facts. For example, if you sue municipality in Florida, the percentage typically cannot exceed 25%. However, some agreements allow percentages up to 40% if there is a dispute and it goes into litigation.
Costs during the caseWhen you hire a personal injury attorney to represent you, they take on the responsibility of funding the case until a settlement or resolution is reached. Yes, this means that your attorney is required to essentially front all of the costs involved in the case, including litigation costs, expert fees, records fees, postage/copying fees, and investigation costs. This amount can oftentimes exceed several thousand dollars, especially if the case goes to trial. Once a settlement or resolution is reached, the attorney deducts their fee percentage, the costs are deducted/reimbursed, all of the medical or repair bills and liens are then deducted and paid, and the client receives what is remaining. This is typically paid out in a lump sum but can sometimes be in an annuity or installments depending on the case or resolution. Court approval of a settlement may also be required in certain situations.
Hiring an attorney is low risk, not hiring is high riskHiring an attorney to represent you after an accident carries very low risk to you due to the way the contracts are set up. You are not required to pay anything up front, and they will help cover costs throughout the resolution of the case. However, if you forgo hiring an attorney, all of these benefits will not be available to you. In addition, you may not have the proper legal expertise to properly argue your side of the story, which could result in an insufficient settlement. Don't bet on your well-being and hire a personal injury attorney. Good luck.