Personal Injury Attorney Fees In Florida
Attorney Fees Are Negotiable
The Florida Supreme Court, as the governing body over the conduct of lawyers, has established maximum percentages that attorneys make charge as the attorney’s fee in contingent fee personal injury cases. Normally, an attorney may only charge a MAXIMUM of one third of the first $1,000.000.00 of the gross proceeds of recovery as a fee if the case settles prior to an answer to a lawsuit being filed by the defendant. So if a case settles before a lawsuit is filed or after a lawsuit is filed but before the defendant files an answer to the complaint, then the maximum fee, say based on a $60,000.00 settlement, would be $20,000.00. That does not include any costs the attorney has expended during the representation. If a case is filed and either settles after the defendant files an answer up through trial, the MAXIMUM fee the attorney can charge on the first $1,000,000.00 of recovery is 40%. The MAXIMUM fee percentage decreases with recovery over $1,000,000.00.
Sometimes an attorney may agree to take less than the maximum percentage, depending on the circumstances. The client has the right to negotiate the fee. If the case is very difficult or if it does not appear that the recovery will be great, it is unlikely that the attorney would agree to reduce the fee.
Creative Attorney Fees
There are creative ways to convince your personal injury lawyer to accept less than the maximum fee permitted by the Florida Supreme Court. Perhaps you have attempted to settle your case on your own and have received a $3,000.00 offer-which you don’t want to accept. So you go to a lawyer to see if that lawyer can negotiate a better result. Your lawyer might agree to accept only one-third of any amount he obtains over $3,000.00 so as not to penalize you for hiring a lawyer. A lawyer may be reluctant to do that if it means a lawsuit must be filed to attempt to obtain recovery greater than the $3,000.00. The case may have many problems to the point where recovery over $3,000.00 is by no means guaranteed. Sackrin & Tolchinsky, P.A. has taken cases where it has agreed to take no fee from the amount that the client was offered before the client hired the attorney, especially if it was a good case and the offer was very low. If the case is not that good, the lawyer may agree to forego any fee on the amount you were offered by the insurance company if you agree to pay some or all of the court costs, such as filings fees and court reporter fees. Filing and service of process fees could easily be $500.00 or more in Florida. In other words, if you agree to take some of the risk by paying for some or all of the costs, the lawyer is more likely to reduce the percentage or at least not take a fee on the amount you were offered before the attorney became involved in the case.
Likewise, we have represented accident victims for less than the maximum fee when the case comes from a source other than another attorney. Under the law, Florida attorneys are authorized to pay referral or participation fees to other Florida lawyers who refer cases to them. There are certain disclosure requirements. The ordinary referral or participation fee is 24% of the total fee (one-quarter of the fee, so if the fee is $40,000, then the referring lawyer will receive $10,000.00). If you come directly to a lawyer who can handle your case from beginning to end, the lawyer might agree to work on a less than maximum fee as the lawyer knows he or she will not have to pay a referral fee.
If the case is a very substantial one and a large settlement is likely to occur very early in the process, a lawyer will probably agree to accept less than the maximum, at least if the case settles prior to the filing of a lawsuit.
There are other situations where your personal injury lawyer may agree to work on a contingent fee that is less than the maximum allowed by the Florida Supreme Court. You, as the client, may negotiate the contingent fee. In certain circumstances, a lawyer might very well be willing to handle your case for less than the maximum set forth in the rules regulating the Florida Bar.
Want to Know More?
Since 1982, Alan Sackrin has represented clients throughout Florida in recovering monetary damages for their personal injuries. Alan is a Board Certified Civil Trial Expert that strives to maximize the amount of compensation his clients’ receive for their claim. Alan brings a high-level of skill and knowledge to his client’s case and he offers a free initial consultation.
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