What Percentage Do Personal Injury Lawyers Take In Florida?
As an Orlando personal injury lawyer, reading through Google results this morning, I noticed a couple of false answers in other legal blogs regarding what percentage personal injury lawyers usually charge in Florida.
Maybe they want to play hide the ball to get more clients?
Anyway, here’s the amount personal injury (including car & truck accident) lawyers usually take in Florida:
- If your case settles without the lawyer having to file a lawsuit, then vast majority of lawyers will take 33 1/3% off the top of your recovery.
- This is before you pay medical bills, which are also deducted from your recovery.
- This is not a legal requirement, so occasionally lawyers will reduce the fee.
- Fee reduction is rare.
- Fee reduction scenarios include:
- (1) lawyer can’t get business so advertises a lower fee (translation: run — the quality of your lawyer is very important to the ultimate outcome in your case); or
- (2) the case has a huge potential recovery because of serious injuries, a well-insured driver (like a semi or other big company commercial truck) and the insurance company is likely to pay the full amount immediately, because liability is not disputed (like they rear-ended you). The second scenario can be covered via a modified contingent fee agreement in very large cases — for example, if your case settles with the insurance company for the full policy value within 30 days of our sending an immediate demand letter, then we will only charge 25%, otherwise, we will charge the normal 33 1/3.
- If your case settles after the lawyer files a lawsuit (which means a lot more work for the lawyer), the vast majority of lawyers will take 40% off the top of your recovery.
- You should expect to pay 40% if:
- you have serious injuries
- you were hit by a defendant with decent insurance coverage, and
- there is any dispute whatsoever regarding who caused the accident, OR the extent of your injuries (hint: there almost always is one of those two things in serious injury cases).
- The reason is because insurance companies will not pay anywhere near what the case is worth unless you file a lawsuit, in these cases, so you absolutely WANT a lawyer who will charge this higher amount.
- WARNING: SOME FLORIDA LAW FIRMS ONLY CHARGE 33 1/3% BECAUSE THEY NEVER FILE LAWSUITS. RUN FROM THESE LAW FIRMS. YOU WILL GET LESS MONEY IF YOUR CASE NEEDS A LAWSUIT. This is not uncommon; check your contract carefully BEFORE signing. Or, if you have already hired a law firm that isn’t going to file a lawsuit, then review our article regarding when you can fire a law firm (and still realistically hire another one).
- The lawyer fee, again, is before your medical bills, which also come off the top.
- I’ve never heard of a fee reduction in this scenario.
- You should expect to pay 40% if:
- There are a few rare exceptions to the attorney fee percentage listed above:
- If the defendant admits liability (fault) when they answer to complaint in the lawsuit (this is typically one of the first documents the defendant will file in any lawsuit), then the litigated case fee goes down to 33 1/3 % (rather than 40%). The reason is that, in that scenario, your Florida personal injury lawyer only has to gather enough evidence to prove the extent of your injuries, but does not have to prove who caused the accident. In other words, there is less work for the lawyer in this scenario, although we still do a lot of work to prove the extent of your injuries. Most people are very surprised the extent to which defendants will go to prove that you really aren’t as injured as you claim. This is especially true in higher value and more serious injury cases, with larger insurance policies. So when there is more money over which to fight.
- If your recovery is between 1 and 2 million, then your Orlando personal injury lawyer may only take 30% of the amount between 1 and 2 million (they still take either 33 1/3 % or 40 % percent on the amount up to one million, under the guidelines explained above).
- If your recovery is over 2 million, then your injury lawyer may take only 20% of the amount over 2 million (the amounts under 2 million remain the same as listed above).
Should You Shop Around For The Personal Injury Lawyer With The Lowest Fee?
Obviously my answer is going to sound self-serving. But, you just have to believe me on this one: I am an honest person.
Shopping for a car or truck accident lawyer based on fee is very similar to shopping for a doctor based on fee. There is an incredible amount of skill involved in good lawyering (and high numbers on billboards do not equal skill; call us to find out the long list of reasons why that’s true). Would you want to choose the cheapest surgeon?
Put more simply, shopping for a lawyer based on fee is pure insanity. Don’t do it.
Instead, shop based on quality. (Also, finding a lawyer who will reduce the fee would take a lot of time because very few lawyers do this. And — in the couple of scenarios when I’ve seen this before — the lawyer offering the “discount” had fine print that basically eliminated most of the discount. I’m only including this section because some people really like to price shop everything. This makes zero sense when hiring a Florida personal injury lawyer.)
Instead, when shopping for a lawyer, truly you need to ask: who gives you the best feeling? This person needs to be smart, detailed, and have sufficient listening skills (and time given to you) to tell your story. That’s what lawyers do. We tell your story to the insurance adjuster, the defense lawyer, the mediator, and, if the case doesn’t settle, to the judge and jury. Years of experience also matters.
I have to take a moment to warn you against big firms. BAD idea. We call them settlement mill firms. Think cattle drives. Lawyers with 500 clients, even the really nice ones, cannot and will not give your case the time it deserves to maximize the values, and large numbers on billboards don’t change that fact. (As far as billboards, remember above when I mentioned that some (very rare) cases are so obviously bad that any insurance company is going to pay immediately? Cue large billboard settlement from a phone call. If you have a big enough marketing budget, then you get enough of these calls, while still rare, to post billboards all over town. In our firm, we have handled many multi-million dollar cases, and those usually take a few years, and hundreds and hundreds of hours of work to maximize, which is exactly what we do.)
Otherwise, ignore the fee. Think about your case. Who is giving you advice about how to get the most money? Who would you like telling your story?
If you would like to speak to very experienced Orlando car accident lawyers about the value of your case, and what you might do to increase your case value, please give us a call today. All of our small team of lawyers have many years of personal injury & car accident case experience, award winning, and recognized as leaders. If you were seriously injured, then a lawyer will speak with you very quickly. (407) 803-2139. You can text, but calling is preferable so that we can get preliminary information that we need to help you the most.
How Are Personal Injury Lawsuit Fees Different Than Other Lawsuits?
In most other types of cases, like divorces, criminal, or estates and trusts, lawyers charge an hourly fee (usually $350 or more), then they charge an upfront retainer (usually 5-10K but sometimes much more). These cases can range in complexity and price from just a few thousand, to hundreds of thousands in lawyer fees for the most complex cases.
The good and bad news about personal injury is that you pay nothing unless we recover money for you — and then only a percentage. We call this a “contingent fee,” because our fee as personal injury lawyers is contingent on your recovery.
This is good because in most non-injury cases, the outcome doesn’t matter. In the vast majority of NON-INJURY cases, you have to pay the lawyer in full, regardless of the outcome. For example, we had a family member contractor who sued a non-paying customer, and hired a local law firm. The law firm charged them 100K and they ultimately recovered zero dollars from the customer, who declared bankruptcy.
However, in personal injury & car accident cases, you only pay a percentage of your recovery. So if you recover nothing, you do not have to worry about paying your lawyer. (This can happen to the lawyer’s detriment, if, for example, the defense happens to find a witness who swears you were going double the speed you told your lawyer.)
The contingent fee arrangement (of personal injury lawyers) is also good because you and your lawyer have a similar interest in the outcome of the case. Your lawyer earns more if you earn more. That’s unlike most non-injury cases, where the lawyer has already been paid, at the outset of the case. And the fee arrangement is very helpful in terms of up front costs. Lawyers who go to trial pay thousands of dollars to vendors and testifying experts — at their own considerable risk — and you owe nothing unless they recover money for you.
But the contingent fee is bad because, truly, insurance companies should pay you the full and fair amount without needing a lawyer. That’s what used to happen most of the time “in the good old days,” like before the 1990s. Unfortunately, insurance companies hired big time consultants in the 1990s to restructure everything about how they pay claims — and their customers have suffered like crazy ever since then. Law makers could also pass statutes (laws) requiring an insurance company to pay you in full, AND pay your lawyer. They just haven’t done so, thanks largely to pro-insurance company legislative bodies.
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