When you are injured in an accident caused by another person or entity, you may wonder what options you have. There’s no question that this can be an overwhelming and confusing situation.
If you are like some people, you may think your options for legal representation are limited due to your financial situation. However, with personal injury lawsuits, this isn’t the case. At Fetterman & Associates, we work on a contingency fee basis. This means that we don’t get paid unless your case is successful.
Keep reading to learn more about this type of payment setup and what percentage attorneys (like us) take for their services. This information will help you decide who to hire and why our legal services are well worth the investment.
Contingency Fee Agreements and Percentages
With a contingency fee agreement, an attorney only receives payment if your case is successful. They receive their payment from your settlement. Usually, the percentage of your settlement they will receive ranges between 33% and 55%.
If your case is unsuccessful, no fee is paid. It’s required that this agreement be put in writing.
History of the Contingency Fee
In the English system, the person who loses a lawsuit must pay the costs and fees associated with the case for both sides. The policy makes filing a lawsuit risky and limits how much access someone has to the court system.
However, this type of law and requirement in American courts does not apply. Instead, each party must pay all fees related to their legal services no matter who wins (with some exceptions).
This was done to help increase access to the courts for injured individuals. Because of this, in the American court system, contingency fees are allowed.
Florida Laws Related to Contingency Fees
The Florida Supreme Court determines how contingency fees work for personal injury cases. The statute is complex, and the amount of the fee varies. However, there are some requirements in place. These include:
Prior to Filing an Answer
For cases that settle before the defendant in the case answers the complaint, the following caps are in place:
- 33 1/3% cap placed on settlements up to $1 million
- The cap is reduced by 10% incrementally for settlements that exceed $1 million
- There is a 20-day period for the defendant to answer the complaint
After the Answer is Filed
For defendants who answer the lawsuit within the 20 days, or if the case goes to trial and the plaintiff is successful with their pursuit of a judgment, then the caps change. In this case, they are:
- The attorney for the plaintiff can accept up to 40% of the contingent fee up to settlements of $1 million
- If a judgment or settlement amount exceeds $1 million, the percentage that goes to the attorney is reduced to amounts that the Florida Supreme Court set
Agreeing to the Contingency Fee
Before you agree to a contingency fee, it’s important to discuss it with your lawyer. The attorney needs to let you know that if recovery for your case is unsuccessful, you won’t be responsible for attorney services or fees. They also need to outline the specific terms of what you must pay and the responsibilities of each part to ensure a positive and successful client-attorney relationship.
Even though these matters will be talked about during your consultation, they will also be outlined in the contingency fee agreement or the contingency contract. This document will have all the fees you must pay during the case. Once you and your attorney sign the agreement, it is viewed as a legally binding contract.
All contingency fee contracts must be in writing. Also, clients have three days to reconsider the contract. You can cancel it without reason if you notify your attorney in writing within three days of signing the contract. If you do this, you won’t owe any fees to the lawyer; however, you may have to pay the attorney’s costs for that time, if any.
Contact Our Attorneys to Learn More
When you contact our legal team, you can feel confident we will discuss all aspects of payment and fees that apply to your situation. We will also review any other costs or expenses that may be taken from the settlement agreement. You can count on our legal team to be completely transparent about our fees and will answer any questions or concerns you may have.
Remember, our Port St Lucie personal injury attorneys want to help you win your case and receive the compensation you deserve for your accident and injuries. We will also discuss any questions you have and ensure you are comfortable with our fees and fee structure. Contact us today to learn more about our services.