Many people who are injured in traffic accidents consider retaining an attorney but hesitate to do so because of concerns about cost. It’s easy to find advertisements for injury lawyers who claim your case is free if they don’t recover damages for you – the wording varies, but the message is the same: no compensation, no fee. The problem is, not many people believe that there is such a thing as a free lunch, and nobody believes there is such a thing as a free accident lawyer in Miami. In fact, many people are hesitant to hire a lawyer because they believe it will be too expensive. The reality is that you can afford to retain an attorney, and the amount you will pay in legal fees depends on a number of factors. Read on to learn more.
What Will a Car Accident Attorney Cost?
Florida Bar Association rules prohibit any fee agreements that can result in an illegal, prohibited, or clearly excessive fees or costs. Whether a fee is excessive is a matter of “reasonableness” under Florida Bar rules. An unreasonable fee is one where the fee constitutes a “clear overreaching or an unconscionable demand by the attorney.” A fee is also unreasonable if it is based on fraud or intentional misrepresentation. Florida Bar rules set out factors for reasonableness that mirror rules set for by the American Bar Association.
The Florida Bar permits contingency fees in personal injury and accidental damage cases, including traffic accident cases. Contingency fees mean that the lawyer will charge a percentage of the amount recovered. Ethical rules require that the lawyer and client enter a written fee agreement at the beginning of the representation. The agreement must set forth what percentage of the recovery the lawyer will receive, as well as any additional percentage would be charged if the case is re-tried or appealed to a higher court by the other party.
Contingency fee agreements set forth that the lawyer won’t receive any fees unless you win at trial or obtain a settlement. This enables lawyers to advertise that “you pay nothing” unless the lawyer recovers damages for you. This is not strictly true. In some law firms, you will be responsible for expenses incurred by the lawyer, including court filing fees, expenses paid to witnesses, and mundane costs such as copying fees or express mail costs, unless the fee agreement specifies that you don’t have to.
The typical contingency fee is about one-third of the amount recovered. Your fee agreement must state what the percentage is, and whether any costs and expenses incurred will be paid out of the lawyer’s contingency fee or paid by you in addition to the lawyer’s contingency fee.
Certain contingency arrangements are deemed unreasonable by the Florida Bar. Florida Bar rules limit the percentage a lawyer can receive as a contingency fee depending upon at what stage of the case the recovery occurs. Generally speaking, the earlier in the case you receive a settlement, the lower percentage your car accident lawyer can receive. However, a one-third contingency fee is considered acceptable under all circumstances, and that is about what you can expect to pay.
If You Have Been Injured in a Traffic Accident in the Miami Area, Contact a Miami Personal Injury Attorney
If you have been injured in a traffic accident in the Miami area, you should talk to a Miami personal injury attorney. You could have legal options to recover damages. You need to find someone who can get you the compensation to which you are entitled under Florida law. Contact Flagler Personal Injury Group at (305) 424-8445 or through our online contact form. Our lawyers serve the greater Miami area.