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 may 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.
Depending on the facts of the case, your personal injury attorney may agree to take less than the maximum percentage allowed under the law. However, if the case is very difficult (liability or damages will be hard to prove) or if it does not appear that the amount of recovery will be significant, then it is unlikely that the attorney would agree to reduce the fee.
Being Creative and Negotiating Attorney Fees in Personal Injury Cases
Over the years, we have entered into creative attorney fee relationships with our clients where we agreed to take less than the maximum fee permitted by the Florida Supreme Court. For example, if a client has attempted to settle a case on their own and has received a $3,000.00 offer, which they didn’t accept, we might agree to accept only one-third of any amount we obtain over $3,000.00 so as not to penalize the client for hiring us. However, we are sometimes reluctant to accept those terms if it means a lawsuit must be filed to attempt to obtain recovery greater than the $3,000.00. That’s because the case may have many problems to the point where recovery over $3,000.00 is unlikely.
Another example of being creative with our attorney fees is where, in our opinion, the case is not that good. We may agree to forego a fee on the amount a client was offered by the insurance company if the client agrees to pay some or all of the court costs, such as filing fees and court reporter fees. Filing and service of process fees can easily be $500.00 or more in Florida. In other words, if the client agrees to take some of the risk by paying for some or all of the costs, we are more likely to reduce the percentage or at least not take a fee on the amount a client was offered before we became involved in the case.
Likewise, if the case is a very substantial one and a large settlement is likely to occur very early in the process, we 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 we may agree to work on a contingent fee that is less than the maximum allowed by the Florida Supreme Court. We make the decision to accept less than the maximum fee on a case-by-case basis.
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 who has spent years evaluating accident facts, applying the law, and has effectively asked juries to render favorable verdicts for his clients.
See: Sample Case Verdicts and Settlements
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