There are many different types of fee arrangements that lawyers enter into with clients. Most personal injury attorneys operate on a contingency basis. This type of fee arrangement differs significantly from the fee arrangements in other areas of law. For example, family law attorneys typically bill on an hourly basis and often require the client to pay a retainer at the outset of the representation. Criminal defense attorneys, by contrast, typically charge a flat fee that is required to be paid up front by the client or in installments. Sometimes, criminal defense attorneys charge an extra fee if your case goes to trial.
Contingency basis fees are completely different. As the name suggests, the fee is contingent on the outcome of your case. If there is not a successful recovery for you, there will not be a fee. Contingency fee agreements do not require that the client pay a retainer fee or any attorney’s fees out-of-pocket. The client will not be required to make any payment to the attorney at the initial consultation or during the pendency of the case. The contingency fee is paid out of the settlement proceeds at the end of the case as a percentage of the settlement. In Florida, the typical contingency fee that personal injury attorneys charge is 33 ⅓ percent if the case settles without a lawsuit being filed and 40 percent if a lawsuit is filed.
The beauty of a contingency fee agreement is that it allows personal injury attorneys to represent clients from all walks of life. It widens access to the civil justice system by allowing individuals from all income levels and all economic situations to be able to find a lawyer. Built into the contingency fee arrangement is an alignment of interests between the attorney and the client, who are both motivated to maximize the recovery.
During your initial consultation, which is free at Andrew Pickett Law, you should always ask about fees and costs.
Costs on Contingent Cases
In most cases that settle without a lawsuit being filed, the costs are relatively small. In almost every case, Andrew Pickett Law will advance costs for investigation and postage. If there is a settlement, Andrew Pickett Law will be reimbursed those costs out of the settlement proceeds. If there is not a settlement, the client will not be responsible for the reimbursement of those costs.
If a lawsuit has to be filed in a case, the costs generally increase. Once a lawsuit is filed, additional costs may include expert witness fees, filing fees, deposition transcript fees, and travel expenses. In the context of litigated cases, Andrew Pickett Law will also advance all costs necessary to bring your case to trial. Again, these costs are only reimbursed if there is a monetary recovery for the client. If there is no recovery, the client will not be responsible to reimburse Andrew Pickett Law for advancing these costs.
My staff keeps track of all costs associated with your case. They are deducted from your settlement or jury trial award in addition to my fees. Costs may be a very small amount, or they may run into thousands of dollars, depending on the complexity of your case and whether your case goes to trial. The most expensive cost is for expert witnesses, but they are often a necessity to get you a fair settlement or award at trial.
Attorneys’ fees for a personal injury case range from 33 ⅓ percent to 40 percent, depending on whether the case is successfully negotiated for a fair amount, or if a lawsuit has to be filed. Often, insurance companies will not offer a fair amount for compensation for your injuries. It is then that I will file a lawsuit and take your case to trial, if necessary. Because of the extra work involved in preparing for trial and presenting your case to the jury, the percentage you will pay for attorneys’ fees increases from 33 ⅓ percent to 40 percent.
Types of Compensation
There are six types of damages that are potentially available to victims in personal injury cases. These include:
- Past medical expenses
- Future medical expenses
- Past lost wages
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Past pain and suffering
- Future pain and suffering
Pain and suffering includes mental anguish, disability, physical impairment, disfigurement, inconvenience, aggravation of a disease or physical defect, and loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life. In motor vehicle crash cases, a permanent injury or loss of the use of an important bodily function is required in order to collect damages for pain and suffering.
If the defendant is found to be grossly negligent, you may be entitled to punitive damages. In a civil matter such as a personal injury case, you, as the plaintiff, are required to show the prove that the defendant was grossly negligent. Examples of gross negligence may include drunk driving and texting while driving.
Contact Andrew Pickett
If you were injured in any way due to the fault of someone else, contact me online at Andrew Pickett Law to schedule a free consultation, and to learn more about your rights.