We frequently have callers ask the question of what does contingent fee basis mean? This means that you don’t pay money to your attorney up front. Payment to your attorney depends on, or is contingent upon, there being some recovery of settlement money or jury award in your case. The payment to your attorney is then a percentage of that settlement money or jury award. Your attorney is paid a percentage of what you recover at the end of the case.
How much is the percentage?
Hancock Injury Attorneys follows the Rules of Professional Conduct set out by the Florida Supreme Court, which in a typical auto accident or personal injury case, are as follows:
• If we settle your case before the filing of an Answer to the lawsuit, the fee is 33 1/3 percent of any recovery up to $1 million; or
• If your case is settled at after the filing of an Answer to the lawsuit, through the entry of a Judgment, the maximum fee is 40 percent of any recovery up to $1 million.
In short, if your case is settled prior to filing a lawsuit, 33 1/3%, plus costs. If a lawsuit is filed, 40% plus costs.
Why use contingency fee basis in personal injury cases?
The contingent fee gives injured people, no matter what their financial means, an even playing field against large corporations and insurance companies. In a typical auto accident case, the insurance company has vast financial resources at its disposal to pay for the costs of mounting a defense against your claim. Using the contingent fee basis makes it possible for people from all walks of life to pursue justice.
Some legal experts also believe that contingency fee basis is a very important part of the justice system in the United States as it serves as an “equalizer” by giving everyone, regardless of his or her social standing and influence, to seek justice. In addition, contingency fee creates a society which promotes the idea that no one is above the law and everyone is accountable for his or her actions.
There are a number of advantages to this type of fee arrangement:
• Your attorney doesn’t get paid until you do: By working on a contingency fee basis your personal injury attorney is motivated to move the case as efficiently as possible since he or she is not paid until are. Both you and your attorney have the same goal; to obtain the largest settlement in the quickest amount of time.
• Minimizes risk to the client: Clients may worry that they may end up owing large legal bills if they lose their case. The contingency fee eliminates that risk. You will have it in writing that if we don’t recover for you, you don’t owe us any money.
What are costs?
When we take on a client’s auto accident case, we pay for the cost of the investigation, consulting with experts, gathering the medical records, court costs, depositions, and all the other expenses that go into preparing your case. Rather than ask you to pay money for these costs up front, we pay them and then seek reimbursement from you at the end of your case. At the end of your case, we give you an itemized bill showing all of these costs and expenses.
Hancock Injury Attorneys focuses on putting more money in your pocket. We don’t charge a “file set-up fee” nor do we charge our clients unnamed and unspecified “administrative costs.” We are careful with advanced costs associated with your case and work hard to keep these costs to a minimum.
For more information about contingent fee basis in Florida, read more from the Florida Bar’s Attorney’s Fees Pamphlet.