For those involved in the 400,000+ crashes a year in Florida, the highest price to pay, is of course, their life. Financially, insurance typically only covers 50% of the total costs, leaving these folks with about $900 in damages to pay themselves. And that’s “average.” Your accident could have resulted in much more significant damage and injuries. When you are recovering from an accident, the last worry you want to struggle with is money. Does hiring a personal accident attorney make sense then? Will working with one of the best Florida car accident lawyers add to or take away from your financial – and emotional – stress?
How Florida Car Accident Lawyers Work
If you need a plaintiff’s car accident lawyer (i.e., the other driver was at fault), there is good news. Florida car accident lawyers typically work on a contingency basis. This means that they do not get paid unless you receive an acceptable settlement or win a judgement in court.
Which brings up a good question: when you are successful in recouping compensation, how much is the contingency fee for your lawyer? It depends on the attorney, but usually, it will be between 25% – 40%, with 33% being standard.
Let’s say that you have a contingency arrangement with your personal accident attorney that establishes a 33% fee. Your case is successful and you recover $100,000. Your lawyer will receive around $33,000.
The contingency may also depend on how your case is resolved. For example, if it is settled before a lawsuit is filed, the fee will likely be on the lower end of the spectrum. The fee is typically higher if:
- A lawsuit is filed, the defendant (i.e., the party you contend is at fault) formally answers the complaint, and then the case is settled
- The case goes to trial
In these situations, the fee will usually increase to up to 40%. There is much more intensive work and time involved in preparing for and going to trial. So, if you successfully recover $100,000 after a jury verdict and your contingency arrangement calls for a 40% fee, your attorney will receive $40,000.
Working with Your Personal Car Accident Attorney
When you work with a lawyer, make sure you understand the contingency fee arrangement inside and out. If you need clarification, ask. That is what they are here for! And, if your case is straightforward and relatively simple, you can negotiate a lower fee. In many cases, just having a legal representative on your side gives you the leverage you need for a successful outcome.
Remember, the more complex the case, the higher the fee will be. But again, a lawyer gives you the benefits of legal knowledge, expertise, and inside insight into the system. They can more effectively handle negotiations with the other party and their attorney, as well as with insurance companies. This may result in higher levels of compensation for you.
Other Fees and Expenses
As with the contingency fee, make sure you understand if other expenses will be involved in the handling of your case. For example, your lawyer may need to obtain medical records and police reports or pay for expert witnesses (e.g., accident reconstruction experts, accident investigators).
Depending on the lawyer or law firm you choose, you may have to pay these fees as they are due. If you do not or cannot, your case will likely not proceed. Some firms also pay the fees and expenses and deduct them from the overall settlement or judgement.
It is best that your personal accident attorney takes his/her fee from the net settlement, or the amount left after expenses are deducted. Let’s say that your lawyer incurs $10,000 in expenses in successfully recovering $100,000 for you. The net settlement is $90,000, and his/her fee is then deducted from that (33% of $90,000 = $29,700).
If taken from the total settlement, your attorney would receive $33,000 for his/her legal work plus $10,000 for expenses. This is less settlement money that goes into your pocket.
Understand how a lawyer will take his/her fees before you agree to have one represent you. The arrangement and contract should be clear and transparent.
Should You Hire a Personal Accident Attorney?
In general, a minor fender bender with no injuries can be handled without a lawyer. If your injuries are more severe, there is greater benefit in hiring an attorney. As the “value” of your claim increases, so does the attempts to minimize your damages on the part of the insurance company.
An experienced car accident lawyer will stand up to these companies and work aggressively to get you the compensation you are owed.
If you have been injured in a car accident, do not hesitate to contact the LaBovick Law Group for a free consultation. We are happy to discuss your case with you, determine next steps, and explain the ins and outs of the legal process.