Understanding How Contingency Fees Work In Personal Injury Cases
After being in an accident, such as a Florida car accident, you need legal representation every step of your way. In a personal injury case specifically, hiring a skilled and dedicated attorney is of utmost importance. A qualified personal injury attorney can negotiate with the at-fault party’s insurance company. If an insurance company refuses to pay you what you deserve, a skilled personal injury attorney will not hesitate to go to court. But, after an accident, you may hesitate to hire a personal injury attorney because you think you cannot afford to hire one. Assuming this is entirely understandable, especially considering the fact that people’s financial situations usually take a turn for the worse after an accident.
If you recently suffered injuries in a Florida accident because of someone else’s negligence, you might be wondering how you will manage to hire a personal injury attorney. Can you possibly afford a personal injury attorney with all the bills you have to take care of now? The last thing you want is for you to pay a personal injury attorney hundreds of dollars an hour out of pocket without any promise that you will obtain compensation. Well, the good news is that most personal injury attorneys, even those in Florida, work on a contingency fee basis. Allow us to explain to you how contingency fees work.
What Is a Contingency Fee Arrangement?
A contingency fee arrangement is one where an attorney agrees to represent a client for a percentage of the client’s financial recovery. With a contingency fee arrangement, fees are only due if an attorney successfully obtains recovery on behalf of a client. So, if a personal injury attorney working on a contingency fee basis fails to secure compensation for their client, they will not get paid. Simply put, if your attorney is working on a contingency fee basis, their fees are contingent/dependent on you getting compensated for the damages you have incurred after your accident. Because of this, most personal injury attorneys will not take on a case and put in their effort and time unless they believe the case will have a successful outcome.
Signing the Contingency Fee Agreement
Before a personal injury attorney working on a contingency fee basis can offer you their legal representation, you’ll need to sign a written agreement known as a contingency fee agreement (CFA). This contract establishes, among other things, the percentage that will be deducted from your gross settlement or court award. After signing and returning the CFA to your attorney, they can take on your case and start representing you. Before signing a CFA, make sure you understand the agreement well and ask your attorney any questions that may arise.
When Are Contingency Fees Discussed?
Usually, contingency fees are discussed after a personal injury attorney feels they can successfully take on an accident victim’s case and the victim decides that the attorney or law firm is suitable for their case. This conversation can occur even during a client’s initial consultation.
How Much Is a Contingency Fee?
In most cases, the standard contingency fee of personal injury attorneys is a percentage amount rather than a fixed amount. The amount of contingency fee a personal injury attorney charges depends on several factors. Some of the crucial factors include, but are not limited to the following:
- The complexity of the case
- Damages involved in the case
- Whether the case settles outside court or in court
- The attorney’s experience
- A client’s individual needs
Most personal injury attorneys charge a 33 and 1/3% contingency fee if a case settles quickly outside the courtroom and 40% if the case goes to trial.
When Is the Contingency Fee Paid and Who Pays?
Usually, the contingency fee gets paid directly from a client’s recovery once their case is closed. If your case settles outside the courtroom, the contingency fee will be paid out of the settlement proceeds you obtain from the at-fault party’s insurance company. A net check will be issued to you at the end of your case. On the other hand, if your case goes to trial and the jury awards you money, the contingency fee will be paid out of the total jury award. So, this means that if your personal injury attorney works on a contingency fee basis, you won’t have to go into your pocket to cover attorney fees. However, it’s not uncommon for claimants to be responsible for paying court filing fees and other similar charges.
Do Contingency Fees Pose a Risk To Personal Injury Attorneys?
As earlier mentioned, personal injury attorneys working on a contingency fee basis only take on cases they believe will have a positive outcome. So, when a personal injury attorney working on a contingency basis takes on a case, it means they have already assessed the risks and opportunities of the case and feel they can win a settlement or jury award that can pay for a client’s damages and them.
Contact a Florida Personal Injury Attorney
Contingency fees allow accident victims to take legal action against at-fault parties without financial circumstances holding them back. Contact a Naples personal injury lawyer at The Law Offices of Marc L. Shapiro, P.A., today if you would like to know about our approach to contingency fees.