When it comes to the cost of hiring a Miami personal injury attorney, the system allows an injured person to obtain legal representation without upfront legal costs. This is why most personal injury lawyers charge a contingency fee. This means that the lawyer will receive a percentage of the amount that you recover in your settlement or judgment in addition to anything owed for court fees. The contingency fee percentage can differ based on the stage of your case. There are few things that you need to know about how your lawyer will be paid based on your injury settlement.
Contingency Fee Percentage
While different state statutes limit the contingency fee percentage, most are between 33% and 40%. A common contingency fee agreement is 33.33% (1/3) of your settlement. To illustrate, if you recover a settlement of $60,000, your personal injury attorney would receive $20,000. If you also had $500 in court fees to cover, then you would receive $35,000.
Settlement Before Lawsuit
The contingency fee percentage limit can vary according to the stage of your case. The first step is for your lawyer to send a demand letter to the person who is liable for your injuries. This letter should include an explanation of the injuries and associated costs and a demand for a settlement of a specific amount. From this point, the negotiation starts when you receive a counteroffer. If you are able to settle your case in this way, before you consider filing a lawsuit, then your lawyer is unlikely to be able to take more than one-third of your settlement.
Settlement After Lawsuit
If you have a strong case and have been unable to reach a settlement with the liable party, you will file a lawsuit. You can still settle your case, after filing the lawsuit, but your attorney is then able to receive a higher percentage (typically 40%). This is something you will want to consider when you receive settlement offers before filing a lawsuit. You will also want to think about the growing costs of a trial that will ultimately come out of any later settlement or judgment you receive.
In some cases, you may have to pay for the legal expenses as they are due or your case will not proceed. However, many personal injury lawyers will cover all of the expenses and deduct them from your settlement when they deduct their fees. Some expenses that you’ll have to keep in mind include:
- Medical records
- Police reports
- Expert witness fees
- Filing fees
- Trial exhibits.
Once you’ve filed a lawsuit, your expenses escalate quickly and can be significant if you don’t reach a settlement until close to the date of trial. Once you add up all of the expenses, you may find that the personal injury attorney’s final percentage is between 45% and 60%.
Receive Settlement Check
Your settlement check will be sent to your personal injury lawyer. He or she will then deduct their payment for their legal services and covered expenses. Many attorneys only work on contingency plans, so they need to guarantee that they’ll receive their payment. Your lawyer will contact you when the check is received and discuss the amounts being deducted from your settlement.
In a situation where you dispute any of the charges, the lawyer will place the amount that you dispute into a trust account until the dispute is worked out and will send you the undisputed amount.