As accident and injury attorneys in Plantation, Florida, we oftentimes receive inquiries from prospective clients involved in automobile accidents and slip or falls regarding our fee structure.
More specifically, these prospective clients ask, “What is a “contingency fee agreement”?” and “Will you take the case even if I cannot afford to pay a retainer?”
Contingency fee agreements are customarily used for cases wherein a plaintiff is seeking monetary damages for some sort of injury (i.e. automobile accident, slip or fall, wrongful death, etc.)
A contingency fee agreement is a payment arrangement that allows an individual who has been injured and is seeking legal remedy to obtain legal representation even if they do not have money to pay a personal injury lawyer.
When entering into a contingency fee agreement, the injured party does not pay the personal injury attorney any money up front, agreeing instead to pay the attorney a percentage of their “award” should they win the case at trial or enter into settlement terms with the negligent party or their insurance company.
In a contingency fee agreement, the personal injury attorney will also pay the expenses (costs) of the lawsuit (including filing fees, investigators, medical records, experts, etc.)
Such costs will be paid back from the proceeds of the settlement, if any.
In Florida, the standard contingency fee arrangement for personal injury cases is as follows (as prescribed by the Florida Bar).
However, if all defendants admit liability at the time of filing their answers and request a trial only on damages, then the fee due to the personal injury attorney, shall be limited to 33-1/3% of any recovery up to $1,000,000.00; and
If the recovery is in excess of $1 million, the attorneys’ fee will be computed as follows:
If the recovery is in excess of $1 million and all defendants admit liability at the time of filing their initial answers and request a trial only on damages, then the attorneys’ fee will be computed as follows:
If you do not receive any money as a result of the accident, you will not owe the personal injury attorney any fees or costs.
By entering into a contingency fee contract, the personal injury attorney accepts the risk that your case may not lead to a fruitful settlement.
Even if the personal injury attorney spends hundreds of hours preparing for your case and thousands of dollars in costs, he/she will not get paid if you are not awarded a settlement.
In Florida, worker’s compensation attorneys customarily accept cases on a contingency fee basis.
The contingency fee arrangement in worker’s compensation cases is capped at a much lower rate than personal injury cases, however. Lawyers handling criminal matters are precluded from accepting cases on a contingency fee basis.
Divorce attorneys are also strongly discouraged from accepting cases on a contingency fee basis for public policy concerns. Most other matters could theoretically be accepted on a contingency fee basis, however, practically speaking, contingency fee agreements are standard only for personal injury and worker’s compensation claims.
It is important that your Plantation personal injury attorney fully explains the difference between a standard fee and contingency fee agreement.
As always, do not enter into an agreement if you have any questions regarding the terms of payment.
Plantation personal injury lawyer Marc P. Lyons is a founding partner of Lyons, Snyder & Collin, P.A. and handles all personal injury matters including, auto accidents, slip and falls, premise liability, and wrongful death.