Florida personal injury lawyer, Guy S. DiMartino, explains how personal injury attorneys get paid.
In the practice of law, there are generally three ways that attorneys get paid: (1) an hourly fee contract; (2) a case fee; (3) a contingency fee. The hourly fee contract is an agreement that the client will pay the lawyer their typical hourly fee, which can range from $250.00 to $500.00 depending on the lawyer and the nature and scope of the work. The lawyer will bill the client on a 30 day billing cycle and the client will pay as he or she goes. The case fee is typical in certain types of cases. For instance, many criminal lawyers will charge a flat fee, say for a first time DUI or a traffic ticket.
The contingency fee agreement
In personal injury cases, the most typical fee agreement is the contingency fee contract. Under this fee agreement, the attorney does not get paid until the contingency is met, that is, the client recovers for their injury. If there is no recovery – there is no attorney fee. Many times this fee arrangement works out for the personal injury client because many people injured in accidents are not able to pay an hourly fee. Additionally, many personal injury cases are very expensive to bring and the costs can be between $5,000 – $50,000, and in some cases, the costs can get over $100,000.
The Florida Bar sets out the rules of contingency fee agreement in Rule 4-1.5(f) . Some of highlights are contained within the “statement of clients rights”:
- The attorneys fee is a percentage of the gross recovery, typically 33% and it adjusts depending on the amount of the settlement or whether the case goes into litigation. Medical malpractice cases and cases against governmental agencies have different fee structures.
- Client can cancel the contract within 3 days.
- There is no legal requirement to charge a contingency fee.
- Before hiring a lawyer, you have the right to know the lawyers training, education and experience.
- If the lawyer intends to refer the case to another lawyer, he/she should tell you that up front.
- You have the right to know about legal expenses (costs) in the case.
- You have the right to be told about adverse consequences.
- You have the right to make the final decision about settling the case.
As a general rule, contingency fee contracts work out for personal injury clients because they are not in a position to lay out thousands of dollars for fees and costs before receiving any recovery. Up front the attorney assumes the risk that the case will be fruitful.
If you have any questions about how personal injury lawyers get paid in Florida, you can call me directly on my cell at 352-267-9168 or fill out the internet consultation form on the right.